Jani Radebaugh and Eric Christiansen, Geological Sciences, Shannon Tass, Statistics
Executive Summary and Scientific Merit
The largest moon of Saturn, Titan, has a thick atmosphere of nitrogen and a pressure similar to that of Earth at the surface. There are winds, strong enough to have produced two wind-dominated landforms similar to those on Earth – vast fields of sand dunes and smaller collections of wind-carved ridges, or yardangs. We seek to understand the relationships between the observed landforms and the winds and surface materials required to form them, both on Earth and Titan. This study of the shapes of winddominated landforms, dunes and yardangs, will help answer key questions about the surface of Titan at the end of the era of the Cassini spacecraft. Our work will demonstrate the importance of wind on planetary surfaces.
Three graduate and two undergraduate students worked together to understand the importance of wind on the dunes and yardangs of Saturn’s moon Titan. All students performed research tasks that included measuring dune and yardang width, spacing and length in remote sensing images and analyzing them for statistical patterns (advised by Co-I Shannon Tass in Statistics). They also studied the distribution of these features around Titan, to better understand their relationship to elevation and other obstacles (also advised by Co-I Eric Christiansen in Geology). These studies have led to the preparation of a research proposal now under review at NASA Cassini Data Analysis Program, to presentations at a variety of conferences, and to three Masters Theses. Two of these theses are now in preparation for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Funds from the grant were used for graduate salaries and for student travel to conferences to present their research. Below is a list of conference abstracts and theses successfully defended that are outcomes of this grant.
MS Students and Thesis Topics on this project:
Corbin Lewis – Dune parameter analysis on Titan – MS geology December 2018
Dustin Northrup – Yardangs on Earth and Titan – MS geology August 2018
Bradley Bishop – Sand seas of Titan from Cassini Radar – MS geology April 2019
Undergraduate students on this project:
Sam Martin (17-) – Parameters of dunes in Titan’s sand seas
Gage Pallo (16-17) – Measurements of dunes and yardangs on Titan and Earth
Student-led Conference abstracts related to this grant:
Lewis, R.C., J. Radebaugh, E.H Christiansen, S. Tass, A. Le Gall 2018. A comparative analysis of sediment transport and deposition trends of the Namib Sand Sea and Belet on Titan. Lunar Planet. Sci. XLIX. – Houston, TX
Northrup, D., J. Radebaugh, E.H Christiansen, S. Tass and L. Kerber 2018. Yardang and dune classification on Titan through length, width and sinuosity. Lunar Planet. Sci. XLIX. – Houston, TX
Lewis, R.C., B. Bishop, J. Radebaugh and E.H Christiansen 2017. A comparative analysis of sediment transport and deposition trends of the sand seas of Titan and the Namib. 49th Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society Annual Meeting, Provo, UT.
Lewis, R.C., B. Bishop, J. Radebaugh and E.H Christiansen 2017. A comparative analysis of sediment transport and deposition trends of the sand seas of Earth and Titan. 5th International Planetary Dunes Workshop, St. George, UT, Abstract 3041.
Northrup, D., J. Radebaugh, E.H Christiansen 2017. Using width, spacing and sinuosity of terrestrial yardangs and dunes to classify radar bright features in Titan’s northern midlatitudes. Lunar Planet. Sci. XLVIII, Houston, Abstract 2409.
Bishop, B. R.C. Lewis, J. Radebaugh, and E.H Christiansen 2017. Spatial variations of dune parameters and relationship to elevation and geographic position within the Belet Sand Sea. Lunar Planet. Sci. XLVIII, Houston, Abstract 2425.
Lewis, R.C., B. Bishop, J. Radebaugh, and E.H Christiansen 2017. A comparative analysis of sediment transport and deposition trends of the Sand Seas of Earth and Titan. Lunar Planet. Sci. XLVIII, Houston, Abstract 2559.