Ryan Ewing, geology professor at Texas A&M University, lead a team of scientists who have discovered recently that the sand dunes on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, have moved over long periods of time in a similar manner as the sand dunes on Earth.
The Cassini spacecraft of NASA, which takes rounds near the moon, showed that some of the sand dunes that are greater than 300 feet were formed in around 3000 Saturn years which means 90,000 Earth years. This clearly indicated that the shifts in wind conditions on Titan may behave similarly as the changes in weather conditions of Earth’s great sandy deserts. These findings were published in the latest issue of Nature Geoscience, which adds further to the list of similarities between Earth and Titan that also includes an ocean, a river and an atmosphere.
Professor Ewing says,”The time scale exceeds what we thought were the dominant dune-forming wind cycles on Titan, and makes us think about winds changing in Titan’s past.”
“It takes so long to shape and move the dunes because the dunes are enormous (many of them over 300 feet high). These dunes are on par with some of the largest here on Earth.”
Ewing further added that these findings also means that the sand dunes covered landscapes of Titan may be evolving over time as the orbit of Saturn changes over tens of thousands of years, “and this is somewhat similar to how some of Earth’s sandy deserts have evolved.”