NASA Space Commander



Vast regions of dark dunes also extend across Titan's exotic landscape, especially around its equatorial regions. Unlike Earth's sand, the "sand" that creates Titan's dunes is composed of dark grains of hydrocarbon that resemble coffee grounds. The tall linear dunes of this misty moisty moon-world appear to be quite similar to those seen in the desert of Namibia in Africa. Because Titan's surface is pockmarked by relatively few impact craters, its surface is considered to be quite young. Older surfaces display heavier cratering than more youthful surfaces, whose craters have been "erased" by resurfacing. This resurfacing is caused by processes that cover the scars left by old impacts as time goes by. Our own planet is similar to Titan in this respect. The craters of Earth are erased by the ongoing processes of flowing liquid (water on Earth), powerful winds, and the recycling of Earth's crust as a result of plate-tectonics. These processes also occur on Titan, but in modified forms. In particular, the shifting of the ground resulting from pressures coming from beneath (plate tectonics), also appear to be at work on this veiled moon-world. However, planetary scientists have not seen signs of plates on Titan that are analogous to those of our own planet. Saturn is a lovely planet, with its magnificent system of gossamer rings, shining moons of ice, and myriads of glimmering, frozen, dancing moonlets that twirl and somersault both inside and outside of the enchanting system of rings. The astronomers observed this effect in the upper layer of the lunar crust, termed the megaregolith. This layer is heavily pockmarked by relatively small craters, measuring only 30 kilometers or less in diameter. In contrast, the deeper layers of lunar crust, that are scarred by larger craters, appear not to have been as badly battered, and are, therefore, less porous and fractured.