Skip to comments.Cassini Spacecraft Finds Ocean May Exist Beneath Titan
Posted on 03/22/2008 8:40:05 AM PDT by RightWhale
Pasadena CA (SPX) Mar 20, 2008 NASA's Cassini spacecraft has discovered evidence that points to the existence of an underground ocean of water and ammonia on Saturn's moon Titan. The findings made using radar measurements of Titan's rotation will appear in the March 21 issue of the journal Science. "With its organic dunes, lakes, channels and mountains, Titan has one of the most varied, active and Earth-like surfaces in the solar system," said Ralph Lorenz, lead author of the paper and Cassini radar scientist at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., "Now we see changes in the way Titan rotates, giving us a window into Titan's interior beneath the surface."
Members of the mission's science team used Cassini's Synthetic Aperture Radar to collect imaging data during 19 separate passes over Titan between October 2005 and May 2007. The radar can see through Titan's dense, methane-rich atmospheric haze, detailing never-before-seen surface features and establishing their locations on the moon's surface.
Using data from the radar's early observations, the scientists and radar engineers established the locations of 50 unique landmarks on Titan's surface. They then searched for these same lakes, canyons and mountains in the reams of data returned by Cassini in its later flybys of Titan.
They found prominent surface features had shifted from their expected positions by up to 19 miles. A systematic displacement of surface features would be difficult to explain unless the moon's icy crust was decoupled from its core by an internal ocean, making it easier for the crust to move.
"We believe that about 62 miles beneath the ice and organic-rich surface is an internal ocean of liquid water mixed with ammonia," said Bryan Stiles of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in, Pasadena, Calif. Stiles also is a contributing author to the paper.
The study of Titan is a major goal of the Cassini-Huygens mission because it may preserve, in deep-freeze, many of the chemical compounds that preceded life on Earth. Titan is the only moon in the solar system that possesses a dense atmosphere. The moon's atmosphere is 1.5 times denser than Earth's. Titan is the largest of Saturn's moons, bigger than the planet Mercury.
"The combination of an organic-rich environment and liquid water is very appealing to astrobiologists," Lorenz said. "Further study of Titan's rotation will let us understand the watery interior better, and because the spin of the crust and the winds in the atmosphere are linked, we might see seasonal variation in the spin in the next few years."
Cassini scientists will not have long to wait before another go at Titan. On March 25, just prior to its closest approach at an altitude of 620 miles, Cassini will employ its Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer to examine Titan's upper atmosphere. Immediately after closest approach, the spacecraft's Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer will capture high-resolution images of Titan's southeast quadrant.
Ever notice that everything they find is always never seen?
No. There’s a ton that’s been found that has been seen.
Of course. That is because if it were visible it would already have been found.
I've never seen my bones, but they've been found using X-rays and film.
So there’s water there..... why isn’t there an advanced civilization? Isn’t that all it takes for life to spring up andd then mutate to advanced civilizations?
Ammonia would be an excellent source of nitrogen for fertilizer when they get around to farming Mars.
..sort of like justice, I want to believe in it, but I’ve never seen it.
And if we did try to farm Mars for anything... we'd end up with all the banking institutions and wallstreet sitting up derivatives to manage the transportation costs.... and the government bailing them out.
Did they find any dinosaur bones on Titan? All those fossil fuels there had to come from somewhere...
Yep... I agree with you.
If you can see your bones unaided, you need to review the decisions you made in the last few momments - at least one of them should be rethought.
Happy World Water Day
I still think when we find water on these other planets and moons that the evolutionists are going to need to explain why there isn’t advanced life there. Maybe they’ll claim it’s newer water than what is here on earth :)
Voyager here Houston. We have landed on Titan.
Houston: Do you have a historic observation for everyone watching.
Voyager: Roger Houston. The whole moon smells like...cat pee.
That will require some study. Say about 5 years and $1 billion.
Makes my femur hurt just thinkin' about it.
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