Titan, Saturn’s largest moon is littered with massive dunes ranging from hundreds of feet in height to hundreds of miles in length. The sheer enormity of the dunes has baffled scientists who were studying the formation of these dunes. Titan has a dense atmosphere hydrocarbon lakes filled with liquid methane and ethane. Titan is the only heavenly object in the solar system besides Venus, Mars and Earth to have wind-blown dunes on its surface. However the composition of these dunes is completely different from the ones we have on Earth, Venus or Mars. While the dunes on Earth or Mars are mainly silicates, the dunes on Titan are made of hydrocarbons or possibly water ice covered with a sooty layer of organic materials. Scientists have been able to establish this fact after analyzing loads of data obtained from the Cassini orbiter.
Titan is a moon which orbits Saturn; it has many things which are similar to Earth. It has an atmosphere which is mainly composed of Nitrogen. However there is no Oxygen in Titan’s atmosphere. Titan is also the only moon in the solar which has liquid methane on its surface. Titan also has dunes much similar to sand dunes which are seen on Earth. Titan is also lashed by heavy winds which blow on the surface of Titan’s dunes which looks as if it is facing the opposite direction of the wind.
When Cassini sent pictures of Titan’s surface littered with gigantic dunes, astronomers were amazed by the sheer size of these dunes. A team of astronomers led by the Texas A&M University geology professor Ryan Ewing found these dunes shifting places in much the same way as the sand dunes on Earth’s largest deserts. Studying the data sent by the Cassini spacecraft which makes trips across the moon, astronomers found that these dunes were 300 feet high and took almost 3000 Saturn years to form which is roughly 90,000 Earth years. The wind conditions on the Saturn’s moon are much akin to the changing seasons on Earth. The findings of the Research Team were published in the current issue of Nature Geoscience.