Report

Rapid and Extensive Surface Changes Near Titan’s Equator: Evidence of April Showers

Science  18 Mar 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6023, pp. 1414-1417
DOI: 10.1126/science.1201063

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Abstract

Although there is evidence that liquids have flowed on the surface at Titan’s equator in the past, to date, liquids have only been confirmed on the surface at polar latitudes, and the vast expanses of dunes that dominate Titan’s equatorial regions require a predominantly arid climate. We report the detection by Cassini’s Imaging Science Subsystem of a large low-latitude cloud system early in Titan’s northern spring and extensive surface changes (spanning more than 500,000 square kilometers) in the wake of this storm. The changes are most consistent with widespread methane rainfall reaching the surface, which suggests that the dry channels observed at Titan’s low latitudes are carved by seasonal precipitation.

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