Charon: A brief history of tides

Status Report From: e-Print archive
Posted: Friday, May 29, 2020

Alyssa Rose Rhoden, Helle L. Skjetne, Wade G. Henning, Terry A. Hurford, Kevin J. Walsh, S. A. Stern, C. B. Olkin, J. R. Spencer, H. A. Weaver, L. A. Young, K. Ennico, the New Horizons Team

In 2015, the New Horizons spacecraft flew past Pluto and its moon Charon, providing the first clear look at the surface of Charon. New Horizons images revealed an ancient surface, a large, intricate canyon system, and many fractures, among other geologic features. Here, we assess whether tidal stresses played a significant role in the formation of tensile fractures on Charon. Although presently in a circular orbit, most scenarios for the orbital evolution of Charon include an eccentric orbit for some period of time and possibly an internal ocean. Past work has shown that these conditions could have generated stresses comparable in magnitude to other tidally fractured moons, such as Europa and Enceladus. However, we find no correlation between observed fracture orientations and those predicted to form due to eccentricity-driven tidal stress. It thus seems more likely that the orbit of Charon circularized before its ocean froze, and that either tidal stresses alone were insufficient to fracture the surface or subsequent resurfacing remove these ancient fractures.

Comments: 12 pages, 5 figures, 2 tables

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)

Cite as: arXiv:2005.14101 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2005.14101v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history

From: S. Alan SternĀ 

[v1] Thu, 28 May 2020 15:51:34 UTC (7,111 KB)

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