Posted by Chris M Friday, December 9, 2005

Morphology on Titan

Last January, the Cassini spaceprobe acquired amazing photographs and other science data from Saturn''s moon Titan. It now appears that even river morphology of Titan resembles that of earth.
There are only three parameters that differ significantly between Earth and Titan, Parker said. First is the acceleration due to gravity – on Titan it is about one-seventh the value on Earth. Second is the viscosity of flowing fluid – the viscosity of liquid methane on Titan is about one-fifth that of water on Earth. Third is the submerged specific gravity of sediment – the value on Titan is about two-thirds of that on Earth.
“What this means is that for the same discharge of liquid methane as to water, the channel characteristics on Titan should be remarkably similar to those on Earth,” Parker said. “However, because of the smaller acceleration due to gravity, channel slopes on Titan should be wider, deeper and less steep than those on Earth.”
Wildcards that make Parker’s predictions tentative include a freeze-thaw process of methane that might not be analogous to the freeze-thaw process of water on Earth, and the formation of hydrocarbons on Titan that might add a kind of cohesion not encountered on Earth. “The interaction of sunlight with a hydrocarbon rich atmosphere could possibly precipitate very sticky compounds that could give streams on Titan a degree of cohesion that makes them behave differently,” Parker said.

Here are some examples of Titan images that appear to be similar to structures on earth.
Dune on Titan
Canyons on Titan
Rivers on Titan