18 September 2009

Broken Land: Touring Conamara Chaos, Europa

At last we move on (or back) to Europa.  I will be posting a series of Europa views as I work through my Galileo image and data archives.  These data are on the order of 10 years old, and I have started to combine some of my new color mosaics (generated for the forthcoming Atlas of the Galilean Satellites, which I will describe later this month), with the stereo and photoclinometry based Digital Elevation Models (DEM) or topographic maps I have been generating over that same time.  I start with one of the best of Galileo's data sites, Conamara Chaos, a type example of this broken and jumbled terrain. 

Over the next days and weeks I will post more of these, interspersed with an odd Ganymede or Callisto set.  These satellites did not get as good coverage from Galileo.  Io will not be forgotten, but requires additional processing.   The key difference for Galileo was the antenna failure, which crippled communications and limited mapping and stereo coverage to small mosaics.  These limited areas require tight turns and makes video production more challenging.  I might get an Academy Award yet!



Broken Land: Conamara Chaos

These perspective views show parts of the interior of Conamara Chaos, a region where the ridged crust of Europa has been disrupted into smaller plates set amidst a crazed and rugged terrain, termed matrix, that is in reality crushed ice.  Although some areas look like frozen over liquid water, it is as likely, if not more so, that these are the result of diapirs, rising blobs of warm ice from below that have broken through to the surface.  The total relief across Conamara Chaos is only 500 meters, so don't expect towering mountains.  Individual ridges and blocks can be 100 to 200 meters high.  The color shown here is actual surface color, enhanced to bring out contrasts.  Galileo's camera was sensitive to infrared and ultraviolet radiation and so these colors are a little stronger than what we would see.  The original images have a basic resolution of about 55 meters.  The large blocks are typically 5 to 10 kilometers across.


Broken Land: Conamara Flight
The video can be seen on Facebook (at least thats what I'm trying to link to here). 

Credit: Paul Schenk/Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston

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