Experiments suggest the particles that cover the surface of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, are “electrically charged.” When the wind blows hard enough (approximately 15 mph), Titan’s non-silicate granules get kicked up and start to hop in a motion referred to as saltation. As they collide, they become frictionally charged, like a balloon rubbing against your hair, and clump together in a way not observed for sand dune grains on Earth — they become resistant to further motion. They attach to other hydrocarbon substances, much like packing peanuts used in shipping boxes here on Earth.
A new study provides additional insight into this relationship of Pluto and its moon, Charon, and how it affects the continuous stripping of Pluto’s atmosphere by solar wind. When Charon is positioned between the sun and Pluto, the research indicates that the moon can significantly reduce atmospheric loss.