The Impact Cratering Record on Triton

Science  19 Oct 1990:
Vol. 250, Issue 4979, pp. 437-439
DOI: 10.1126/science.250.4979.437


Impact craters on Triton are scarce owing to the relatively recent resurfacing by icy melts. The most heavily cratered surface has a crater density about the same as the lunar maria. The transition diameter from simple to complex craters occurs at a diameter of about 11 kilometers, and the depth-diameter relationship is similar to that of other icy satellites when gravity is taken into account. The crater size-frequency distribution has a differential -3 slope (cumulative -2 slope) and is the same as that for the fresh crater population on Miranda. The most heavily cratered region is on the leading hemisphere in Triton's orbit. Triton may have a leading-trailing asymmetry in its crater population. Based primarily on the similarity of size distributions on Triton and Miranda and the relatively young surface on Triton, the source of Triton's craters is probably comets. The very peculiar size distribution of sharp craters on the "cantaloupe" terrain and other evidence suggests they are volcanic explosion craters.