Status Report

Where does Titan Sand Come From: Insight from Mechanical Properties of Titan Sand Candidates

By SpaceRef Editor
June 21, 2018
Filed under , ,

Xinting Yu, Sarah M. Hörst, Chao He, Patricia McGuiggan, Bryan Crawford
(Submitted on 21 Jun 2018)

Extensive equatorial linear dunes exist on Titan, but the origin of the sand, which appears to be organic, is unknown. We used nanoindentation to study the mechanical properties of a few Titan sand candidates, several natural sands on Earth, and common materials used in the Titan Wind Tunnel, to understand the mobility of Titan sand. We measured the elastic modulus (E), hardness (H), and fracture toughness (Kc) of these materials. Tholin’s elastic modulus (10.4+/-0.5 GPa) and hardness (0.53+/-0.03 GPa) are both an order of magnitude smaller than silicate sand, and is also smaller than the mechanically weak white gypsum sand. With a magnitude smaller fracture toughness (Kc=0.036+/-0.007 MPa-m^(1/2)), tholin is also much more brittle than silicate sand. This indicates that Titan sand should be derived close to the equatorial regions where the current dunes are located, because tholin is too soft and brittle to be transported for long distances.

Comments:    17 pages, 5 figures
Subjects:    Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as:    arXiv:1806.08056 [astro-ph.EP]  (or arXiv:1806.08056v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Xinting Yu
[v1] Thu, 21 Jun 2018 03:26:43 GMT (2718kb,D)

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