Giant Sand Hill In Titan Formed By Strong Wind

Astronomy Science ~ Titan, Saturn's largest moon, is a strange place. Unlike other months, it has a dense atmosphere. He has rivers and...

Astronomy Science ~ Titan, Saturn's largest moon, is a strange place. Unlike other months, it has a dense atmosphere. He has rivers and lakes consisting of components of natural gas, such as ethane and methane. It also has a high sand dunes hundreds of meters with a width of more than a mile long and hundreds of miles-though the data showed there was only a light breeze.

The study, led by Devon Burr, a professor in the Department of Earth and Planet Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, show that winds on Titan blow faster than previously thought to move the sand. This discovery may explain how Titan's dunes are formed. The findings are published in the latest issue of the academic journal of Nature.

Illustration of landing Huygens on Titan's surface
A decade ago, Burr and other scientists are amazed by the images of Titan from the Cassini spacecraft shows the dune that has never been seen before. The dunes were created by particles that were not previously known to have existed.

"It is surprising that Titan has a particle size of a grain of sand. We still do not understand the source and Titan has a strong wind enough to move the particle," says Burr. "Before looking at the picture, we thought the wind was probably too light to make the move."

The biggest mystery is the shape of the dunes. Cassini data shows that the dominant winds that shape the dunes blowing from east to west. However, the sleek appearance of the dunes around obstacles such as mountains and craters indicate that they were created by the wind moving exactly in the opposite direction.

To answer this puzzle, Burr dedicated six years to improve the high-pressure wind tunnel NASA dies to create the conditions of Titan's surface. He and his team then turn the pressure tunnel to simulate the atmosphere, turning on the fan tunnel and experimental study how sand behaves.

Because of the uncertainty of the properties of the sand on Titan, they use 23 different varieties of sand in the wind tunnel to capture the behavior of sand which may in Titan. After two years of trying different models and calibration, the team found that the minimum wind on Titan is about 50 percent faster than previously thought to move the sand.

"Our models start with a wind speed of previous models but we have to keep fiddling add modifiers to match the wind tunnel the data," says Burr. "We found that the movement of sand on the surface of Titan require higher wind speeds than the models suggested earlier".
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Astronomy Science: Giant Sand Hill In Titan Formed By Strong Wind
Giant Sand Hill In Titan Formed By Strong Wind
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