Skip to content Skip to main navigation Report an accessibility issue

UT Research Offers Explanation for Titan Dune Puzzle

Cassini radar sees sand dunes on Saturn’s giant moon Titan (upper photo) that are sculpted like Namibian sand dunes on Earth (lower photo). The bright features in the upper radar photo are not clouds but topographic features among the dunes. Credit: NASA

Cassini radar sees sand dunes on Saturn’s giant moon Titan (upper photo) that are sculpted like Namibian sand dunes on Earth (lower photo). The bright features in the upper radar photo are not clouds but topographic features among the dunes. Credit: NASA

Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, is a peculiar place. Unlike any other moon, it has a dense atmosphere. It has rivers and lakes made up of components of natural gas, such as ethane and methane. It also has windswept dunes that are hundreds of yards high, more than a mile wide and hundreds of miles long—despite data suggesting the body to have only light breezes.

Research led by Devon Burr, an associate professor in UT’s Earth and Planetary Sciences Department, shows that winds on Titan must blow faster than previously thought to move sand. The discovery may explain how the dunes were formed.

The findings are published in the current edition of the academic journal Nature.

Continue reading at tntoday.utk.edu.