Wave constraints for Titan's Jingpo Lacus and Kraken Mare from VIMS specular reflection lightcurves

Jason W. Barnes, Jason M. Soderblom, Robert H. Brown, Laurence A. Soderblom, Katrin Stephan, Ralf Jaumann, Stéphane Le Mouélic, Sebastien Rodriguez, Christophe Sotin, Bonnie J. Buratti, Kevin H. Baines, Roger N. Clark, Philip D. Nicholson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Stephan et al. (Stephan, K. et al. [2010]. Geophys. Res. Lett. 37, 7104-+.) first saw the glint of sunlight specularly reflected off of Titan's lakes. We develop a quantitative model for analyzing the photometric lightcurve generated during a flyby in which the specularly reflected light flux depends on the fraction of the solar specular footprint that is covered by liquid. We allow for surface waves that spread out the geographic specular intensity distribution. Applying the model to the VIMS T58 observations shows that the waves on Jingpo Lacus must have slopes of no greater than 0.15°, two orders of magnitude flatter than waves on Earth's oceans. Combining the model with theoretical estimates of the intensity of the specular reflection allows a tighter constraint on the waves: <0.05° Residual specular signal while the specular point lies on land implies that either the land is wetted, the wave slope distribution is non-Gaussian, or that 5% of the land off the southwest edge of Jingpo Lacus is covered in puddles. Another specular sequence off of Kraken Mare acquired during Cassini's T59 flyby shows rapid flux changes that the static model cannot reproduce. Points just 1. min apart vary in flux by more than a factor of two. The present dataset does not uniquely determine the mechanism causing these rapid changes. We suggest that changing wind conditions, kilometer-wavelength waves, or moving clouds could account for the variability. Future specular observations should be designed with a fast cadence, at least 6 points per minute, in order to differentiate between these hypotheses. Such new data will further constrain the nature of Titan's lakes and their interactions with Titan's atmosphere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)722-731
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • Photometry
  • Satellites, surfaces
  • Titan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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