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Vast regions of dark dunes also extend across Titan's exotic landscape, especially around its equatorial regions. Unlike Earth's sand, the "sand" that creates Titan's dunes is composed of dark grains of hydrocarbon that resemble coffee grounds. The tall linear dunes of this misty moisty moon-world appear to be quite similar to those seen in the desert of Namibia in Africa. Because Titan's surface is pockmarked by relatively few impact craters, its surface is considered to be quite young. Older surfaces display heavier cratering than more youthful surfaces, whose craters have been "erased" by resurfacing. This resurfacing is caused by processes that cover the scars left by old impacts as time goes by. Our own planet is similar to Titan in this respect. The craters of Earth are erased by the ongoing processes of flowing liquid (water on Earth), powerful winds, and the recycling of Earth's crust as a result of plate-tectonics. These processes also occur on Titan, but in modified forms. In particular, the shifting of the ground resulting from pressures coming from beneath (plate tectonics), also appear to be at work on this veiled moon-world. However, planetary scientists have not seen signs of plates on Titan that are analogous to those of our own planet.
Titan orbits Saturn once every 15 days and 22 hours. Like Earth's large Moon, in addition to many other moons in our Solar System, Titan's rotational period is precisely the same as its orbital period. This means that Titan only shows one face to its parent-planet, while the other face is always turned away.
The twin spacecraft flew in an almost-circular orbit until the mission ended on December 17, 2012, when the probes were intentionally sent down to the lunar surface. NASA ultimately named the impact site in honor of the late astronaut Sally K. Ride, who was America's first woman in space and a member of the GRAIL mission team.
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Comets are actually bright, streaking invaders from far, far away that carry within their mysterious, frozen hearts the most pristine of primordial ingredients that contributed to the formation of our Solar System about 4.6 billion years ago. This primeval mix of frozen material has been preserved in the pristine "deep-freeze" of our Solar System's darkest, most distant domains. Comets are brilliant and breathtaking spectacles that for decades were too dismissively called "dirty snowballs" or "icy dirt balls", depending on the particular astronomer's point of view. These frozen alien objects zip into the inner Solar System, where our planet is situated, from their distant home beyond Neptune. It is generally thought that by acquiring an understanding of the ingredients that make up these ephemeral, fragile celestial objects, a scientific understanding of the mysterious ingredients that contributed to the precious recipe that cooked up our Solar System can be made.
During Cassini's close flyby of Enceladus on October 28, 2015, it detected molecular hydrogen as the spacecraft zipped through the plume of ice grains and gas spraying out from cracks slashing though the icy crust of the moon-world. Earlier flybys provided hints that a global subsurface ocean did, indeed, exist, sloshing around above a rocky core. Molecular hydrogen in the plumes could indicate hydrothermal processes, which could play the important role of providing the chemical energy so necessary to support life as we know it. In order to hunt for hydrogen specifically originating on Enceladus, the spacecraft dived particularly close to the strange slashed surface.
However, the models become somewhat more complicated when different forms of ice are taken into consideration. The ice floating around in a glass of water is termed Ice I. Ice I is the least dense form of ice, and it is lighter than water. However, at high pressures, like those that exist in crushingly deep subsurface oceans like Ganymede's, the ice crystal structures evolve into something considerably more compact. "It's like finding a better arrangement of shoes in your luggage--the ice molecules become packed together more tightly," Dr. Vance said in his May 1, 2014 statement. Indeed, the ice can become so extremely dense that it is actually heavier than water--and therefore somersaults down to the bottom of the sea. The heaviest, densiest ice of all is believed to exist within Ganymede, and it is called Ice VI.