The sand seas of Titan: Cassini RADAR observations of longitudinal dunes

Science. 2006 May 5;312(5774):724-7. doi: 10.1126/science.1123257.


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 approximately 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 approximately 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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Extraterrestrial Environment*
  • Geologic Sediments
  • Hydrocarbons / chemistry
  • Methane / chemistry
  • Particle Size
  • Radar
  • Saturn*
  • Spacecraft
  • Wind


  • Hydrocarbons
  • Methane