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Scientists searching for signs of seasonal storms on Titan have finally found the smoking gun. A slick shimmer spotted on the north pole of the Saturnian moon is the first evidence of rainfall in the hemisphere - the start of summer in the north.
It's the evidence astronomers have been waiting years to see, since Cassini's arrival in Saturn's orbit all the way back in 2004.
"The whole Titan community has been looking forward to seeing clouds and rains on Titan's north pole, indicating the start of the northern summer, but despite what the climate models had predicted, we weren't even seeing any clouds," said physicist Rajani Dhingra of the University of Idaho.
After carefully poring over Cassini's output, the team finally found what they were looking for in an image snapped on June 7, 2016. The picture came courtesy the spacecraft's Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) instrument, which can peer through Titan's thick, hazy atmosphere to the surface below.
According to their analysis, the region is the result of methane rainfall onto a rough, pebble-like surface, likely followed by a period of evaporation. It's the first evidence of summer rain on Titan's northern hemisphere.
This rain was predicted, but scientists had expected to see it earlier in the season, based on theoretical models, especially since the northern hemisphere is where most of the moon's lakes and oceans are located.
"Summer is happening. It was delayed, but it's happening. We will have to figure out what caused the delay, though."
originally posted by: Archivalist
a reply to: Blue Shift
They could be wrong. NCSU isn't the best source in existence. They have some intelligent individuals there, but they let some riff raff publish, from time to time.