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Journal Articles Space Science Reviews Year : 2018

Thermal Properties of Icy Surfaces in the Outer Solar System

C. Ferrari


The thermal properties of airless icy surfaces are providing a wealth of information on their regolith structure after eons of space weathering. Numerous observations of the thermal cycles of Jupiter and Saturn icy satellites or Centaurs and TNOs have been acquired in the latest decades thanks to the Galileo and Cassini missions and to the Spitzer and Herschel telescopes. These observations and the latest developments on thermophysical modeling which have been achieved to link the thermal inertia to the regolith structure are reviewed here. Measured thermal inertias of these surfaces covered with water ice are very low, roughly between about 1 and 100 J/m2/K/s1/2. Often interpreted as due to unconsolidated or highly porous regoliths, these low values may result from a composition of amorphous ice or from the roughness of grains defacing contacts in a regolith of normal compaction. Taken together, thermal inertias appear to increase with probed depth and to decrease with heliocentric distance. This latter effect can be easily reproduced if heat transfer is dominated by radiation in pores, despite low temperatures, because the conduction through grains is limited, either due to the presence of amorphous ice or because of the roughness of grains.
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insu-03589298 , version 1 (25-02-2022)



C. Ferrari. Thermal Properties of Icy Surfaces in the Outer Solar System. Space Science Reviews, 2018, 214, 22 pp. ⟨10.1007/s11214-018-0546-x⟩. ⟨insu-03589298⟩
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