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Very straight lines spotted at Titan’s poles: what could they be?

Researchers are trying to figure out what the geological feature of Saturn’s moon actually is.

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Saturn’s moon Titan may contain hundreds of strange ridges called yardangs. Such a geological feature could shed light on how the surface of the icy satellite varies from region to region.

Yardangs may litter Titan’s polar regions, scientists say. Yardangs are long, perfectly straight ridges. This surface is formed when erosion breaks down strips of soft soil. Therefore, such features can help understand Titan’s complex geology.

The fact is that in the upper latitudes of Titan, hundreds of strange lines were discovered, which planetary scientists called bright linear features.

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Experts believe that these are either sand dunes, which have already been observed on the equator of Titan, or yardangs. Both natural phenomena are long, straight systems of ridges and depressions, so it is quite difficult to distinguish them from each other.

“From orbit it’s quite hard to tell what we’re looking at—we just see long, straight lines,” says Jani Radebaugh of Brigham Young University.

Radebaugh and her team used a computer model to compare more than 200 features on Titan to dunes and yardangs on Earth.

On our planet, yardangs tend to be straighter than dunes and appear brighter in radar images. On Titan, all the detected objects were straighter and also looked brighter in the images, which leads scientists to the idea of ​​yardangs.

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The fact that Titan’s lower latitudes are dominated by dunes and its upper latitudes dominated by yardangs could help researchers learn about conditions in different regions on the moon.

“Perhaps there is no sand on Titan at high latitudes, or there is other material that is more easily eroded,” Radebaugh said.

NASA’s Dragonfly spacecraft, scheduled to launch to Titan in 2028, should provide a wealth of new information that will help us understand this.

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Jake Carter

Jake Carter is a researcher and a prolific writer who has been fascinated by science and the unexplained since childhood. He is always eager to share his findings and insights with the readers of anomalien.com, a website he created in 2013.