Scientists Spot Dust Storms On Saturn’s Moon, Titan, For The Very First Time


Titan is Saturn’s Largest Moon, and it’s a world that’s quite similar to ours. It has a considerable atmosphere, lakes and weather patterns as well. Now, it seems that astronomers have discovered another way in which Titan resembles Earth – it has dust storms.

Via data coming from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft which orbited Saturn from July 2004 to September 2017, scientists observed something that they believe are dust storms around Titan’s equatorial regions.

Titan is the second-largest moon from the solar system. This is the only one that has a substantial atmosphere which is mostly made up of nitrogen, just like our planet.

It also has clouds, lakes, and rivers, but instead of water, they contain hydrocarbons such as ethane and methane, which are chemicals that we can find in gasoline.

Titan has dust storms 

This is the reason for which, at first, that’s what researchers thought they were looking at when they scanned the data collected in 2009. They thought the brightening region were clouds of methane.

“From what we know about cloud formation on Titan, we can say that such methane clouds in this area and in this time of the year are not physically possible,” Sebastien Rodriguez, lead author of a study said.

Another reason for the experts’ conclusion was that the formation occurred far lower in the atmosphere than clouds would develop.

Scientists have also ruled out frozen methane rain and icy lavas, and this left only one single explanation available – dust.

Dust was seen on the surface of Titan before back in 2005 when the Huygens probe landed on the moon’s surface and found a small amount of organic dust.

“But what we spotted here with the help of Cassini is at a much larger scale,” Rodriguez explained.

“The near-surface wind speeds required to raise such an amount of dust as we see in these dust storms would have to be very strong — about five times as strong as the average wind speeds estimated by the Huygens measurements near the surface and with climate models.”


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