Archive for January 24, 2012

Cassini Sees the Two Faces of Titan’s Dunes

January 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech, and NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

A new analysis of radar data from NASA’s Cassini mission, in partnership with the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency, has revealed regional variations among sand dunes on Saturn’s moon Titan. The result gives new clues about the moon’s climatic and geological history.

Dune fields are the second most dominant landform on Titan, after the seemingly uniform plains, so they offer a large-scale insight into the moon’s peculiar environment. The dunes cover about 13 percent of the surface, stretching over an area of 4 million square miles (10 million square kilometers). For Earthly comparison, that’s about the surface area of the United States.

Though similar in shape to the linear dunes found on Earth in Namibia or the Arabian Peninsula, Titan’s dunes are gigantic by our standards. They are on average 0.6 to 1.2 miles (1 to 2 kilometers) wide, hundreds of miles (kilometers) long and around 300 feet (100 meters) high. However, their size and spacing vary across the surface, betraying the environment in which they have formed and evolved.

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Virginia Students to Speak Live With Space Station Astronauts

January 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Students gathered at The University of Virginia College at Wise will speak with Expedition 30 Commander Dan Burbank and Flight Engineer Don Pettit aboard the International Space Station at 9:20 a.m. EST on Thursday, Jan. 26. Media representatives are invited to attend.

Approximately 2,500 students from southwestern Virginia will ask questions about life, work and research aboard the space station. NASA Associate Administrator for Education and former astronaut Leland Melvin will attend, and Gov. Robert McDonnell and U.S. Sen. Mark Warner will connect virtually with the event. It will be broadcast live on NASA Television.

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