Cassini's radio waves bounce off of Titan's surface, and the different ground features reflect the waves back at Cassini with different timing and slightly altered wavelengths. By recording these changes to the radio waves, Cassini's radar instrument can construct an image of the landscapes beneath Titan's atmosphere.
Titan's surface is teeming with dunes similar to sand dunes here on Earth, but they aren't made of silicates like our sand. Instead, Titan's sand contains grainy hydrocarbons that formed in its atmosphere before precipitating onto the ground.
The dunes reach heights of more then 300 feet (91 meters), which is aboutas large as the tallest sand dunes on Earth. Compared with the average Earthly sand dune, though, Titan's dunes are gigantic. Their structures can reveal information about Titan's surface topography and wind patterns. [Titan Sand Dunes Reveal Clues of Saturn Moon's Past]
"Dunes are dynamic features. They're deflected by obstacles along the downwind path, often making beautiful, undulating patterns," Jani Radebaugh, a Cassini radar team associate at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, said in a statement.
RELATED: Cassini Spies Titan's Undulating Dunes
These new images of Titan's southern terrain will also be Cassini's last. The spacecraft will spend the remainder of its mission checking out lakes and seas in the north. After four more flybys of Saturn's giant moon, Cassini will end its mission by plunging straight into Saturn's atmosphere.
Email Hanneke Weitering at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us @Spacedotcom,Facebookand Google+. Original article on Space.com.
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