Longitudinal asymmetry of craters' density distributions on the icy satellites

Leliwa-Kopystyński J., Banaszek M., Włodarczyk I.

Planetary and Space Science

60 (1), 2012, 181-192, 10.1016/j.pss.2011.08.002

Crater's density distribution versus satellitographical longitude was searched for seven icy satellites: two of Jupiter (Ganymede and Callisto) and five of Saturn (Mimas, Tethys, Dione, Rhea and Iapetus). Craters were classified according to their size. Four bins of the craters' diameter were used. Density distributions were found in the longitudinal sectors of the near-equatorial stripes that circumscribe the satellites. The size distributions (R-plots) were done independently for each of the eight longitudinal sectors of the satellites. Searching for the leading/trailing (apex/antapex) and the near-side/far-side asymmetry was done. It was found that the crater density is longitudinally asymmetric for all seven satellites being studied. However, the apex–antapex asymmetry is much less pronounced than predicted by theory of Zahnle et al. (2003), for impacts on the satellites by ecliptic comets. We conclude that the impact craters observed on the considered satellites are mostly originated from planetocentric swarm of debris. In that case longitudinal asymmetry is not expected, as stated by Horedt and Neukum (1984a, b). However, cratering longitudinal asymmetry that we observe for Mimas perfectly agrees with calculations of Alvarellos et al. (2005). It is very likely that important part of craters on Mimas were formed due to impacts of ejecta originated from crater Herschel.