Mysterious mazes streak Saturn's moon Titan


Enormous labyrinth terrains crisscross the surface of Saturn's largest moon, Titan.

As methane and ethane rain down, they slowly carve away at the landscape by some undetermined method to create mazes that stretch for tens of kilometers. New research has revealed how extensive these puzzling mazes are on Titan's surface, and provides insight into how they formed.

First spotted by NASA's Cassini mission in 2010, the labyrinths bear a faint resemblance to geographic features found on Earth, in places like Papua New Guinea and China, as well as on Mars . Cassini only recently completed mapping the surface of Titan , revealing that the mazelike features make up a little over 1 percent of the moon's landscape. [ Deep, Flooded Canyons Found on Saturn's Moon Titan (Video) ]

"When we first saw them, we knew the terrain was special," Cassini team member Michael Malaska told Malaska, a planetary geologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, presented efforts to characterize the labyrinth terrain at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) in The Woodlands, Texas, in March. At the same meeting, Thomas Cornet, a researcher at the Saclay Nuclear Research Center in France, modeled how parts of the alien landscape might dissolve to form the labyrinth features.

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