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The Sand Seas of Titan: Cassini RADAR Observations of Longitudinal Dunes

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Science  05 May 2006:
Vol. 312, Issue 5774, pp. 724-727
DOI: 10.1126/science.1123257

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Abstract

The most recent Cassini RADAR images of Titan show widespread regions (up to 1500 kilometers by 200 kilometers) of near-parallel radar-dark linear features that appear to be seas of longitudinal dunes similar to those seen in the Namib desert on Earth. The Ku-band (2.17-centimeter wavelength) images show ∼100-meter ridges consistent with duneforms and reveal flow interactions with underlying hills. The distribution and orientation of the dunes support a model of fluctuating surface winds of ∼0.5 meter per second resulting from the combination of an eastward flow with a variable tidal wind. The existence of dunes also requires geological processes that create sand-sized (100- to 300-micrometer) particulates and a lack of persistent equatorial surface liquids to act as sand traps.

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