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NASA's Cassini Probe Captured Titan's Dunes, Frigid Alien Landscape

Sep 09, 2016 04:00 AM EDT

NASA's Cassini spacecraft continue to provide fascinating discoveries about one of the most interesting of Saturn's moon, Titan. A recent collection of images gathered by the Cassini probe revealed dunes on the surface of Titan and an astonishing alien landscape.

Considered as one of the most ambitious planetary missions ever launched, Cassini, a joint effort by NASA and the European Space Station (ESA), carried the Huygens probe to Saturn's moon Titan and had since delivered a significant amount of scientific information to Earth.

Titan is one of the most interesting of Saturn's moons. Earlier this year, scientists said that Titan has the right chemistry to cater to life, prompting more study and investigations that could prove or disprove the theory.

Recent footage captured using Cassini's radar vision were able to peek through the haze that envelopes Saturn's largest moon Titan. The result was unexpected as dunes were observed in the Shangri-la or an immensely dark area on the surface of Titan.

The terrain is also alien to scientists as formations like these are rarely observed. There were linear dunes that could be made up of grains from hydrocarbons on Titan's atmosphere. What baffles scientists is the fact that the odd formations can be found mostly on Titan's equator.

The radar visions proved to be helpful for Cassini to peek past the cloudy haze that blocks the view of Titan's surface. A number of sand dunes appeared on the surface of Titan once the radar vision of the spacecraft was activated. The dunes have broken patterns that flow around obstacles similar to sand dunes on Earth, according to NASA.

"Dunes are dynamic features. They're deflected by obstacles along the downwind path, often making beautiful, undulating patterns," Jani Radebaugh, a Cassini radar team associate said in a statement.

Aside from the sand dunes, Cassini also managed to capture a more detailed image of Titan's Xanadu annex, which the Hubble Space Telescope also spotted before. Xanadu was identified by Hubble in 1994, but the Xanadu annex was only identified recently with the recent Cassini probe.

Scientists say that the discovery of sand dunes and the frigid alien landscape on the surface of Titan can help them further understand the behavior of winds on Saturn's largest moon.

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