Comparison of Titan's north polar lakes with terrestrial analogs

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Abstract

[1] The discovery of hydrocarbon lakes in the polar regions of Titan offers a unique opportunity to compare terrestrial lakes with those in an extraterrestrial setting. We selected 114 terrestrial lakes formed by different processes as analogs for comparison with the 190 Titanian lakes that we had mapped in our previous study. Using the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) C-band backscatter data and the SRTM Water Body Data (SWBD), we carried out an assessment of manual mapping versus existing automated mapping techniques, and found the automated techniques to produce as good representations of the lake shorelines as the manual mapping in the terrestrial dataset. We then calculated and compared terrestrial and Titanian shoreline statistical parameters including fractal dimension, shoreline development index and an elongation index. We found different lake generation mechanisms on Earth produce “statistically different” shorelines. However, we cannot identify any one mechanism or set of mechanisms to be responsible for forming the depressions enclosing the lakes on Titan, on the basis of our statistical analyses.

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