Saturn's Largest Moon Titan has Electric Sand Dunes That Stick Together

Titan, Saturn’s most outstanding moon, is a thoroughly unusual location. The only satellite regarded to have a thick atmosphere, it also takes place to feature a complex climate, which include rivers, lakes, storms, ponds, pools and seas – they’re simply made from methane and ethane, not water.

It additionally features a few instead strange sand dunes, that are often one hundred meters (roughly three hundred feet) high. on the earth, sand dunes shape when wind blows sand across a desert or beach and it manages to pile up. With few exceptions, the sand dunes usually point within the path of the prevailing wind.

On Titan, they frequently do precisely the alternative, and now researchers have eventually figured out why: static electricity, or "electrostatics," is binding them together.

If the wind is blowing in a northerly direction, you’d assume the sand dune to be tipping over in the direction of the north, but on Titan, it'd regularly be pointing towards the south. this is bizarre, however it shows that the sand there isn’t pretty like the kind we discover on our own planet.

A group of scientists from Georgia Tech, after carrying out some concept experiments, found out that Titan’s sand could be composed of particles that show off a very strong electrostatic force – the equal force that offers you shocks while you contact a metal object in a very dry environment, and the very same that produces volcanic lightning.

Electrostatics refers to stationary or slow-shifting electric charges. The surfaces of certain substances are prone to collecting electric charge, which pulls objects or particles which have the exact opposite electric charge. that is called electrostatic attraction, and it's far magnitudes stronger than the force of gravity.
The group of geophysicists considering on Titan’s wacky dunes suspected that the sand over there has been especially liable to electrostatic charge accumulation. If enough of this sand rubbed together, it'd generate a lot of charge that it might refuse to change shape even in the face of strong prevailing winds.

so as to test this, the group grabbed  specific compounds of solid hydrocarbons concept to exist on Titan, plonked them in numerous pressurized containers full of Titan’s nitrogen-rich atmosphere, and spun them around to simulate the flow of wind.

After the spinning ceased, the group determined that up to five percentage of the hydrocarbon sand formed little dunes that stuck to the container. The same couldn’t be stated for tests related to regular silica sand or even volcanic ash, which shows that you get electrostatic sand dunes on Titan, however not Earth.

“We conclude that, unlike other solar system bodies, nanometre-scale electrostatic processes may shape the geomorphological features of Titan across the moon’s surface,” the team wrote in their Nature Geoscience observe.

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