Scientists observing Saturn’s moon Titan with NASA’s Cassini spacecraft patched together the first global topographic map of Titan, using radar imagery collected from nine years of Cassini flybys. The work was published in the July 2013 issue of Icarus.
“Titan has so much interesting activity — like flowing liquids and moving sand dunes — but to understand these processes it’s useful to know how the terrain slopes.” Said Ralph Lorenz, a member of the Cassini radar team at Johns Hopkins.
Like Earth, Titan’s atmosphere is composed primarily of nitrogen but the liquids and vapors on the moon’s surface are made of methane and other organic chemicals integral to the creation of complex life.
By studying the relationship between atmosphere and terrain, researchers hope to learn more about the evolution of life in its earliest stages.
And who knows maybe we’ll find something there.