Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Cassini Maps Global Pattern Of Titan's Dunes

Date:
March 4, 2009
Source:
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Summary:
Titan's vast dune fields, which may act like weather vanes to determine general wind direction on Saturn's biggest moon, have been mapped by scientists who compiled four years of radar data collected by the Cassini spacecraft.

Scientists have used data from the Cassini radar mapper to map the global wind pattern on Saturn's moon Titan using data collected over a four-year period, as depicted in this image.
Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Titan's vast dune fields, which may act like weather vanes to determine general wind direction on Saturn's biggest moon, have been mapped by scientists who compiled four years of radar data collected by the Cassini spacecraft.

Related Articles


Titan's rippled dunes are generally oriented east-west. Surprisingly, their orientation and characteristics indicate that near the surface, Titan's winds blow toward the east instead of toward the west. This means that Titan's surface winds blow opposite the direction suggested by previous global circulation models of Titan.

"At Titan there are very few clouds, so determining which way the wind blows is not an easy thing, but by tracking the direction in which Titan's sand dunes form, we get some insight into the global wind pattern," says Ralph Lorenz, Cassini radar scientist at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md. "Think of the dunes sort of like a weather vane, pointing us to the direction the winds are blowing." A paper based on these findings appeared in the Feb. 11 issue of Geophysical Research Letters.

"Titan's dunes are young, dynamic features that interact with topographic obstacles and give us clues about the wind regimes," said Jani Radebaugh, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. "Winds come at these dunes from at least a couple of different directions, but then combine to create the overall dune orientation."

The new map, based on all the high-resolution radar data collected during a four-year period, is now available at: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov and http://www.nasa.gov/cassini .

The wind pattern is important for planning future Titan explorations that might involve balloon-borne experiments.

Some 16,000 dune segments were mapped out from about 20 radar images, digitized and combined to produce the new map.

Titan's dunes are believed to be made up of hydrocarbon sand grains likely derived from organic chemicals in Titan's smoggy skies. The dunes wrap around high terrain, which provides some idea of their height. They accumulate near the equator, and may pile up there because drier conditions allow for easy transport of the particles by the wind. Titan's higher latitudes contain lakes and may be "wetter" with more liquid hydrocarbons, not ideal conditions for creating dunes.

Cassini, which launched in 1997 and is now in extended mission operations, continues to blaze its trail around the Saturn system and will visit Titan again on March 27. Seventeen Titan flybys are planned this year.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The radar instrument was built by JPL and the Italian Space Agency, working with team members from the United States and several European countries.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Cassini Maps Global Pattern Of Titan's Dunes." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090302111328.htm>.
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2009, March 4). Cassini Maps Global Pattern Of Titan's Dunes. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090302111328.htm
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Cassini Maps Global Pattern Of Titan's Dunes." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090302111328.htm (accessed November 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Friday, November 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Crowdfunded Moon Mission Offers To Store Your Digital Memory

Crowdfunded Moon Mission Offers To Store Your Digital Memory

Newsy (Nov. 19, 2014) Lunar Mission One is offering to send your digital memory (or even your DNA) to the moon to be stored for a billion years. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Accidents Ignite Debate on US Commercial Space Travel

Accidents Ignite Debate on US Commercial Space Travel

AFP (Nov. 19, 2014) Serious accidents with two US commercial spacecraft within a week of each-other in October have re-ignited the debate over the place of private corporations in the exploration of space. Duration: 02:08 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Lunar Mission One Could Send Your Hair to The Moon

Lunar Mission One Could Send Your Hair to The Moon

Buzz60 (Nov. 19, 2014) A British-led venture called Lunar Mission One plans to send a module to the moon with keepsakes from Earth. Vanessa Freeman (@VanessaFreeTV) tells you how to get your photos and DNA onboard. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why A Russian Object Is Being Called A 'Satellite Killer'

Why A Russian Object Is Being Called A 'Satellite Killer'

Newsy (Nov. 18, 2014) An unidentified Russian spacecraft is getting some attention, with some saying it could be for research while others say it could be a weapon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins