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What does it mean… Saturn’s moon Titan is similar to Earth?

moon Saturn Titan It is one of the best destinations to search for life in our solar system, a tantalizing possibility that NASA’s Dragonfly spinner will investigate.NASA Which will be launched to visit there in 2027, and the place includes a dense atmosphere, rivers and lakes on its surface consisting of liquid methane and ethane, then an ice crust, and a possible ocean of liquid water under it.

New research suggests that this alien world may have more in common with Earth than previously thought, at least in terms of its seasonal cycle, Digitartlends reported.

Researchers from Stanford University and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory used computer models to analyze how Titan’s surface features such as sand dunes and plains formed. Among the rivers whose glacial surface is covered, there are also hydrocarbon sand dunes.

Titan is considered habitable because, in addition to being the only moon in the Solar System known to have a large atmosphere, it has a seasonal liquid cycle comparable to Earth’s water cycle, in which liquid runs over the surface and evaporates in the form of clouds. before it rains again. But instead of this cycle occurring with water on Titan, it occurs with liquid methane and ethane.

This seasonal cycle affects how the dunes are formed as well, which are made up of the hydrocarbons that make up the sand grains. But the sands on Earth are made up of strong silicates, and the sands on Titan are made of fine compounds that normally erode into fine dust, raising questions about how these compounds could form into the grains that make up sand dunes that lasted for hundreds of thousands of years.

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Lead author Matteo Laputere explained the problem in a statement: “When winds move grains, the grains collide with each other and with the surface.” “These collisions tend to reduce the grain size over time. What we were missing was a growth mechanism that could balance this and enable the sand grains to maintain a constant size through time.”

The researchers found that the answer may be due to a process called sintering, in which a group of fine particles fuse together into a solid mass due to heat or pressure. This allows the kernels to grow in size, and is balanced by rip erosion which makes the kernels smaller.

Together with the seasonal cycle on the moon, this could explain how Titan ended up with sand dunes around the equator, plains around mid-latitudes, and a type of complex terrain called labyrinth terrain near the poles.

Different terrains are formed by different amounts of sediment-carrying winds, rain and river flow, creating structures in the terrain. This makes the seasonal system remarkably similar to the Earth system in some respects, although different compounds are used.

“We show that on Titan – just as on Earth and what it was like on Mars – we have an active sedimentary cycle that can explain the latitudinal distribution of the landscape through occasional erosion and sintering from Titan’s seasons,” Lapotre said.