This compilation of images from nine Cassini flybys of Titan in 2009 and 2010 captures three instances when clear bright spots suddenly appeared in images taken by the spacecraft's Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer.   Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/University Paris Diderot/IPGP/S. Rodriguez et al. 2018

This compilation of images from nine Cassini flybys of Titan in 2009 and 2010 captures three instances when clear bright spots suddenly appeared in images taken by the spacecraft's Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/University Paris Diderot/IPGP/S. Rodriguez et al. 2018

Hello, Earthlings!

Earth and Mars have very similar geologies, mainly due to similar minerals and crustal material! Plus the dust storms! On Mars, however, dust storms can engulf the entire planet for weeks or months at a time! These are the only planets to have significant dust storms…until now.

Welcome in Saturn’s largest moon, Titan- just recently discovered to have dust storms!

“Dust” however to a geologist means tiny particles of material, so not necessarily the same material as Mars and Earth, and certainly not just sand!

Instead, Titan has sand of ice and organics. On Earth such rivers, lakes and seas are filled with water, while on Titan it is primarily methane and ethane that flows through these liquid reservoirs. In this unique cycle, the hydrocarbon molecules evaporate, condense into clouds and rain back onto the ground.

Plus, just like Earth and Mars, these dust storms appear to regulate on a seasonal cycle, some seasons more prominent than others. However, as the data was taken from the Cassini mission which spun around and around the Saturnian system, not every season was captured by Cassini- so some data is missing.

Just means we have to go back!

Come back next week for a look at the Parker Solar Probe!