Rapid and extensive surface changes near Titan's equator: Evidence of April showers

E. P. Turtle, J. E. Perry, A. G. Hayes, R. D. Lorenz, J. W. Barnes, A. S. McEwen, R. A. West, A. D. Del Genio, J. M. Barbara, J. I. Lunine, E. L. Schaller, T. L. Ray, R. M.C. Lopes, E. R. Stofan

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Abstract

Although there is evidence that liquids have flowed on the surface at Titan's equator in the past, to date, liquids have only been confirmed on the surface at polar latitudes, and the vast expanses of dunes that dominate Titan's equatorial regions require a predominantly arid climate. We report the detection by Cassini's Imaging Science Subsystem of a large low-latitude cloud system early in Titan's northern spring and extensive surface changes (spanning more than 500,000 square kilometers) in the wake of this storm. The changes are most consistent with widespread methane rainfall reaching the surface, which suggests that the dry channels observed at Titan's low latitudes are carved by seasonal precipitation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1414-1417
Number of pages4
JournalScience
Volume331
Issue number6023
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 18 2011

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Turtle, E. P., Perry, J. E., Hayes, A. G., Lorenz, R. D., Barnes, J. W., McEwen, A. S., West, R. A., Del Genio, A. D., Barbara, J. M., Lunine, J. I., Schaller, E. L., Ray, T. L., Lopes, R. M. C., & Stofan, E. R. (2011). Rapid and extensive surface changes near Titan's equator: Evidence of April showers. Science, 331(6023), 1414-1417. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1201063