The name “Xanadu” just sounds exotic and enticing, and given that this region on Titan is right next to Shangri-la, how can we not be intrigued by the latest radar image of this region taken by the Cassini spacecraft? While Titan itself is shrouded in mystery with its thick, hazy atmosphere, via radar, Cassini can peer through and has found three major surface features: dunes, craters and the enigmatic Xanadu, a bright continent-sized feature centered near the moon’s equator. At upper right is the crater Ksa, first seen by Cassini in 2006. The dark lines running among Xanadu and Ksa are linear dunes, similar to sand dunes on Earth in Egypt and Namibia. In addition to the dunes, look closely at Xanadu to see hills, rivers and valleys which scientists believe are carved in ice rather than solid ground, by liquid methane or ethane.
This image was taken by Cassini’s Titan Radar Mapper on June 21, 2011.