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Posts Tagged ‘Saturn’s moon’

A Brand New Ocean — on Saturn’s Moon Titan

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 30, 2012

This artist’s concept shows a possible scenario for the internal structure of Titan, as suggested by data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.

A. Tavani / NASA
It really is a shame that Titan can’t slip away from Saturn late one night. The ringed planet’s most interesting moon would easily qualify as one of the solar system’s most interesting planets if it were out and orbiting on its own. Still, even as a mere back-bencher it does just fine.

Titan has long been thought of as something like a flash-frozen version of the early Earth, saturated with the hydrocarbons that first made life possible on our planet. Getting a good, close look at Titan is thus like getting a good close look at our own distant past. Just two weeks ago, data from the Cassini spacecraft, orbiting Saturn, also revealed that Titan’s surface is home to numerous methane lakes, one of them half as large as Utah’s Great Salt Lake. Now comes a paper published in the journal Science persuasively suggesting that Titan probably has a vast-globe-girdling ocean beneath it’s surface too, and unlike the methane-filled lakes above, this one is made of ordinary water. That has very big implications not just for our understanding of Titan, but for our hunt for life elsewhere in the cosmos.

(PHOTOS: The Storms of Saturn)

“The search for water is an important goal in solar system exploration,” said lead author Lucino Iess, a Cassini scientist at Sapienza University in Rome. “Now we’ve spotted another place where it is abundant.” Read the rest of this entry »

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