Saturn’s orbital patterns form Titan’s ancient dunes

Giant sand dunes make up the surface of Titan, Saturn’s moon, and these dunes made of hydrocarbon particles may have existed for thousands of years. Radar pics of the dunes by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft suggest that orbital variations of Saturn affect the form of the dunes, which in turn reflect the resulting switches in weather patterns. According to Ryan Ewing, a geologist at Texas A&M University in College Station, who led the explore, it may take as long as Three,000 Saturn years (or 90,000 Earth years) for a single dune to switch direction. His team noticed ‘star’ shaped dunes that might have formed due to prevailing winds throating from several directions. Interestingly, the smaller star-shaped dunes are oriented in a different direction from the larger, linear ones. The team calculated that it would have taken several thousand years for the winds to switch direction and embark forming the star-shaped dunes. Ewing now plans to examine the effect of¬†shifting orbital patterns of Saturn on Titan’s winds.

Read more in Nature.  

Picture: Wikimedia Commons

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