Cassini Spies Titan's Undulating Dunes

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Saturn's moons are packed with mystery and alien landscapes, but as shown in this flyby observation of Titan, some surface features have a very Earth-like flavor.

Although Titan's thick atmosphere sluggishly blows at a speed of around 1 meter per second, it's enough to drive the formation of vast aeolian (wind-blown) features. Alongside Mars, Titan can be considered a "dune world," where around 13 percent of the moon's surface is filled with dune fields.

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These dunes are not built with the same stuff that we are accustomed to, however. On Earth, wind-blown silicate sand accumulates; on Titan, the wind-blown 'sand' is composed of tiny dry grains of hydrocarbons -- organic compounds that have inspired hypotheses for Titan's life-giving potential.

The above observation of Titan's dunes was acquired by Cassini's Titan radar mapper on July 10, 2013, during the mission's T-92 flyby. The spacecraft buzzed the moon at a distance of only 599 miles (964 kilometers).

Source: ESA