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Summary of Proposal GEO1970

TitleComparative study of terrestrial and planetary aeolian structures
Investigator Paillou, Philippe - University Bordeaux 1, OASU
Team Member
Dr Radebaugh, Jani - Brigham Young University, Geological Sciences
SummaryTheCassini-Huygens mission has been studying the Saturn system since2004. The Ku-band (13.8 GHz 2.17 cm) Radar instrument onboard theCassini spacecraft is a combined altimeter / scatterometer / imagingradar that has enabled study of the surface of Titan, the largestmoon of Saturn, through its optically-opaque atmospher. This instrument has revealed the richness of the surfaceof Titan, as seas, lakes, rivers, cryo-volcanic flows and dunes havebeen discovered. Dunes are amajor geomorphological feature present on the surface of Titan, sincethey cover more than 10 million km2,mainly in equatorial regions. However, the resolution of the Cassini Radar instrument (around 300 m at the closest point of the flyby) is not good enough to allow a detailed study of the morphology of Titan's dunes, and it also does not allow to discriminate between dunes and yardangs. The latter are wind-abraded ridges formed in cohesive rocks and are likely to have a radar signature similar to the one of linear dunes. We propose in this study to model the geometrical radar response of both linear dunes and yardangs, based on SRTM topography of two representative terrestrial test sites: the linear dunes of the Great Sand Sea in western Egypt and the mega-yardangs of the Lut Desert in eastern Iran. This modeling will be validated using X-band TerraSAR images, in order to derive a radiometric discrimination between the radar signature of linear dunes and yardangs. The results will be applied to the study of potential yardang structures on Titan, that were possibly wrongly classified as linear dunes. If mega-yardangs are identified on Titan, this would have consequences on our understanding of soil erosion and climatic processes for this satellite.

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