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13-04-2015

The formation of Titan's dune controlled by tropical methane storms

The equatorial regions of Titan (the largest moon of Saturn) are covered by a large field of linear dunes propagating eastward. This direction is opposite to mean winds predicted by climatic models, constituting one of Titan's great mysteries. By combining results from a regional model applied to methane clouds with a Titan global climate model , a French-American team showed that the formation of Titan's dunes should be controlled by rare tropical methane storms producing strong eastward gusts dominating the sand transport. These results explain the shape, orientation and direction of propagation of Titan's dunes, and provide clues on the origin of Titan's sand.

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