Constraints on Mimas' interior from Cassini ISS libration measurements

R. Tajeddine, N. Rambaux, V. Lainey, S. Charnoz, A. Richard, A. Rivoldini, B. Noyelles

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Like our Moon, the majority of the solar system's satellites are locked in a 1:1 spin-orbit resonance; on average, these satellites show the same face toward the planet at a constant rotation rate equal to the satellite's orbital rate. In addition to the uniform rotational motion, physical librations (oscillations about an equilibrium) also occur. The librations may contain signatures of the satellite's internal properties. Using stereophotogrammetry on Cassini Image Science Subsystem (ISS) images, we measured longitudinal physical forced librations of Saturn's moon Mimas. Our measurements confirm all the libration amplitudes calculated from the orbital dynamics, with one exception. This amplitude depends mainly on Mimas' internal structure and has an observed value of twice the predicted one, assuming hydrostatic equilibrium. After considering various possible interior models of Mimas, we argue that the satellite has either a large nonhydrostatic interior, or a hydrostatic one with an internal ocean beneath a thick icy shell.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)322-324
    Number of pages3
    Issue number6207
    Publication statusPublished - 17 Oct 2014


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