DPS 35th Meeting, 1-6 September 2003
Session 6. Icy Galilean Satellites
Oral, Chairs: C. Phillips and W. Moore, Tuesday, September 2, 2003, 3:30-5:30pm, DeAnza III

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[6.09] Europa's Opposition Surge in the Near-Infrared: Interpreting Disk-Integrated Observations by Cassini VIMS

D. P. Simonelli (Senior NRC Research Associate / JPL), B. J. Buratti (JPL)

Observations of Europa's opposition surge by Cassini VIMS, presented at last year's DPS, have now been modeled with the commonly used Hapke photometric function.

The VIMS dataset emphasizes observations at 16 phase angles from 0.4 to 0.6 deg---the first time the < 1 deg phase ``heart" of Europa's opposition surge has been observed in the near-IR. This dataset also provides a unique opportunity to examine how the surge is affected by changes in wavelength and albedo: at VIMS wavelengths of 0.91, 1.73, and 2.25 microns, the geometric albedo of Europa is 0.81, 0.33, and 0.18 respectively. Despite this factor-of-four albedo range, however, the slope of Europa's phase curve at < 1 deg phase is similar at all three wavelengths (to within error bars) and this common slope is similar to the phase coefficient seen in visible observations of Europa.

Two competing models for the opposition surge's physical cause are the Shadow Hiding Opposition Effect (SHOE) and Coherent Backscatter Effect (COBE). Because of sparse VIMS phase coverage, it's not possible to constrain all the surge parameters at once in a Hapke function that has both SHOE and COBE; accordingly, we performed separate Hapke fits for SHOE-only and COBE-only surges. At 2.25 microns, where VIMS data are somewhat noisy, both types of surges can mimic the slope of the VIMS phase curve at < 1 deg phase. At 0.91 and 1.73 microns, however---where VIMS data are ``cleaner"---COBE does a noticeably poorer job than SHOE of matching the VIMS phase coefficient at < 1 deg phase; in particular, the best COBE fit insists on having a steeper phase-curve slope than the data. This suggests---without being conclusive---that COBE is less likely than SHOE to be the cause of Europa's near-IR opposition surge.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35 #4
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.