Since the Cassini probe has entered the systemSaturn in July 2004, scientists and the general public received a steady stream of data from the ringed giant and many of its beautiful satellites. In particular, special attention was focused on Saturn’s largest satellite, Titan, which has many similar earthly properties. Among others: nitrogen-rich atmosphere, the presence of liquid water bodies on the surface, dynamic climate, organic molecules, active prebiotic chemistry.
In the last revelation that came withthe Cassini orbiter also learned that Titan was experiencing periodic dust storms. This puts him in a single class of such celestial bodies as the Earth and Mars - more than those storms we have not seen anywhere else.
What makes Titan look like Earth?
"Titan is a very active moon," says SebastianRodriguez, astronomer IPGP from the University of Paris-Diderot, lead author of the work. “We already know something about its geology and the exotic hydrocarbon cycle. Now we can add another analogy with the Earth and Mars: an active dust cycle in which organic dust rises from the huge dune fields at the equator of Titan. ”
Scientists also know that Titan is the onlybody in the solar system, in addition to the Earth, on the surface of which there are reservoirs, although not with water. Like on Earth, this fluid rises into the atmosphere and descends to Earth. Only instead of water, on Titan this whole process goes through methane and ethane. Studying three unusual spots in the equatorial region of Titan, the Rodrigues team first took them for methane clouds. But it turned out that this is completely different.
“From what we know about the formation of clouds onTitans, it can be said that such methane clouds are physically impossible in this area and at this time of year. ” Also, it could not be frozen streams of lava or methane rain. Only one explanation remains: since the bright spots were found immediately above the dune fields at the equator of Titan, which consist of tiny solid organic particles, it could only be clouds of dust.
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