Skip to comments.'Ice volcano' found on Titan moon
Posted on 06/16/2005 9:50:18 AM PDT by robowombat
'Ice volcano' found on Titan moon
The Cassini spacecraft has identified a possible ice volcano on Saturn's moon Titan, according to Nature magazine.
The supposed cryovolcano shows up in images as a bright, circular, domed region about 30km in diameter with two possible flows extending westwards.
It may be formed by an upwelling of hot ice from the interior, scientists say.
The analysis of Titan's surface by the Vims instrument on Cassini also appears to show there are no methane oceans on the moon, as some had suggested.
In Nature, Christophe Sotin and colleagues argue that the dome probably formed as plumes of icy material rose to the moon's surface before releasing methane gas into the atmosphere.
The spectral data from the Vims images, which give scientists information on what the object is made of, suggest the dome and its "flows" are not composed predominantly of water-ice.
The researchers claim that other explanations for the circular feature, such as it being a cloud, or the accumulation of particles similar to a sand dune, are unlikely. But Louise Prokter of Johns Hopkins University in Maryland, US, said the images were not of sufficient resolution to provide details below a few hundred metres, and suggested the dome might be an impact crater.
She suggested that, if the feature was indeed an icy volcanic dome, it could be formed by nitrogen ice breaking through the surface.
The Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (Vims) can discern wavelengths of light in the visible and infrared range of the spectrum in order to penetrate the thick organic haze which obscures Titan's surface.
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/06/08 18:15:00 GMT
© BBC MMV
Does it spew ice cubes when it erupts? :)
"Volcano on Titan found to be filled with "ICY HOT®" the dual action topical pain reliever."
"...In other news, thousands of couch potatoes woth sore backs and union workers on disability have applied to the NASA astronaut training program."
That is, running parallel to the Southern Pacific tracks.
What is hot ice? How is that possible? Is it liquid ice (slushy) or so hot it burns? Damn I'm too stupid for these smart people I guess.
My guess is as good as theirs. I surmise that it is a "dunces" hat.
I guess "hell freezing over" is now a matter of perspective...
I hate that too. May offer what they left out?
Titan is so cold (-250 degrees and colder) that water ice is as hard as rock, and gases like ammonia and methane flow like liquids. In such a world "heating" is a relative notion. Conditions in such a cold place that cause water ice to melt are the equivalent of conditions on earth that cause rock to melt. Not surprisingly you get similar effects -- hence "ice volcanoes".
If you are wondering what actually would cause such heating, the massive gravitational tug of Saturn pulling on Titan as it orbits causes tidal bulging and pushing and pulling within the ices that make up Titan. That internal friction occasionally heats up in spots "hot" enough (or less cold) to melt water, causing these "volcanoes"
By the way, the same thing is happening on the moon "Io" which orbits Jupiter, but there it is sulphur that is melting to form the volcanos. Cool, no?
Yes, nitrogen could flow like a liquid. I should have clarified that the temperature of -250 is Celsius, which is like -420 F.
As for methane being a gas in the atmosphere and a liquid on the surface, it can indeed occur that way. Consider that here on Earth water does the same (water on the ground, vapor in the air, and solid in various places at various times). It's all about density, pressure, local temperature and volume which vary based on where they are on the planet and in its atmosphere, and other conditions.