Skip to comments.Smooth Sailing on Titan
Posted on 03/18/2012 12:25:55 AM PDT by U-238
Lakes on Saturns moon Titan dont do the wave very well. Radar images from NASAs Cassini spacecraft show glassy smooth surfaces, even on bodies like Ligeia Mare, a large sea roughly 400 kilometers (250 miles) wide. There are patterns on the shoreline of the southern hemisphere's Ontario Lacus that might be from waves, but the features arent definitive. Winds havent been too high on Titan since Cassini first arrived in Saturn's system in 2004, so the lack of waves is odd but understandable.
The ESAs Huygens probe sent back amazing surface images, including snapshots of delta-looking features, when it made its dent in the moons equatorial region in January 2005. But its hard to study a lake when you land in a sand dune. Scientists hope to send another mission, called the Titan Mare Explorer (TiME), to make its splat in Ligeia Mare in 2023 if NASA chooses it from one of three potential Discovery missions up for selection this year.
An upcoming Icarus paper by TiME researchers Ralph Lorenz (Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory) and Alexander Hayes (University of California, Berkeley) confirms that the capsule shouldnt face fearsome seas if it survives the funding and launch gauntlet. The duo calculated how various parameters air density and liquids resistance to flow, among others affect wave growth, given the moons weak surface winds. They found that waves on Ligeia Mare wont normally exceed 0.2 meters (not even a foot high), and occasionally might reach just over a half meter in the course of a few months.
(Excerpt) Read more at skyandtelescope.com ...
Seems strange to me that this moon’s liquid bodies wouldn’t be affected by Saturn’s gravitational pull.
Our moon, much less in size, has quite a pull on our oceans.
Granted, the lake bodies here don’t have that large of waves though. Course Saturn is considerably larger than the earth if my memory is accurate.
Titan has other features like the moon experiences “seasons” not like the ones on Earth.It “rains” but the droplets are twice the size of Earth and its made of organic molecules. There are “volcanoes” but they do not spew out lava but methane. That suggests that it has a warm interior because of the gravitational pull of Saturn and its moons. This is what Earth would be like in cryogenic suspension.
Is methane a “fossil fuel”? If so, what animals died on Titan to create it?
Interesting question. If Titan has a sea of methane, doesn’t that render it almost a certainty that hydrocarbons are ubiquitous in the universe and thus life as we know it certain to exist elsewhere?
This also makes me wonder if the source of earth’s oil is not from dead organics but a more basic, fundamental source.
Well, that’s the point, isn’t it? We call methane a “fossil fuel”. But the seas of methane on Titan were not created by dead animals.
On earth, methane is primarily a fossil fuel, however, it is found all over the universe and can be created by non-organic means.
It all depends on what the definition of "IS" is. For example, "IS" ethanol a product of fermentation? If so, what kind of yeast cells in interstellar space produced vast clouds of ethanol seen there?
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The methane comes from inside the moon through the various geological forces.
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