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Saturn moon's mirror-smooth lake 'good for skipping rocks'

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posted on Aug, 22 2009 @ 04:08 PM
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The largest lake on Saturn's moon Titan is as smooth as a mirror, varying in height by less than 3 millimetres, a new study shows. The find, based on new radar observations, adds to a deluge of evidence that the moon's lakes are indeed filled with liquid, rather than dried mud.

"Unless you actually poured concrete and spread it really, really smoothly, you'd never see something like that on Earth," says team member Howard Zebker of Stanford University.

Astronomers have waffled on whether Saturn's largest moon is dry or wet, but the bulk of the evidence points to liquid lakes.

The radar on the Cassini spacecraft, which arrived at Saturn in 2004, turned up dark splotches at Titan's poles. The darkness in radar indicates those regions are very smooth, like the signal expected from the surface of a liquid lake.

Full Article




I wish there were some better photos, this lake sounds amazing. Does anyone know if there are any available?




posted on Aug, 22 2009 @ 05:06 PM
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Wow thats cool. Our own galaxy is much more habitable than we thought. i wonder if that is a watering hole of any thing..

[edit on 22-8-2009 by MR BOB]



posted on Aug, 22 2009 @ 08:26 PM
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reply to post by MR BOB
 

If it is a "watering" hole for something, then that something may like to drink methane.

Titan is too cold for liquid water to exist on its surface, so that lake is probably filled with liquid methane.

..so instead of a "watering hole", it may be a "methaning hole"



posted on Aug, 22 2009 @ 08:39 PM
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reply to post by Soylent Green Is People
 


I personally think chances are something will be feeding on that said methane as posed to not.


I just think it will be bacteria rather than methane consuming zebra.



posted on Aug, 22 2009 @ 08:40 PM
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You know it has always bugged me the presumption that distant planets are not as hot as they go away from the sun. I'm not a scientist but someone needs to explain why earth is habitable yet if a person goes into space without protection they would get cooked alive. Since light in space travels without blockage shouldn't heat travel in space without reduction of that heat? Who is to say that once an atmosphere is established around a planet it traps heat in?

Any scientists out there that can explain this?



posted on Aug, 22 2009 @ 08:49 PM
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reply to post by ExPostFacto
 


Well the heat energy colser to the sun is more focused I'd say - that is to say they same amount of heat enery has to occupy a larger and larger volume the further it travels out.

But yep yo can have a super green house effect with dense atmospheres - you can also have heat from friction and pressure, so not all the heat in the solar system is directly from the sun - take Earth for example - we have a molten core as well.

and at least on of the moons gets a lot of heat from it's orbit (can't remember which one right now - very tired) but the gravational forces are so strong that the whole moon kinda gets pulled out of shape and then snapps back - getting heat from friction.



posted on Aug, 22 2009 @ 09:42 PM
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reply to post by Now_Then
 


So you are saying that if a planet had it's own internal heat source and an atmosphere it could be just as warm as earth even if it is further from the sun?

I wonder how they know the exact surface temperature of titan. Are they using a mathematical equation or did they scan the surface temperature?



posted on Aug, 22 2009 @ 09:43 PM
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HA HA HA HA

You said methaning hole.
I have one of my own, thank you very much!!!


Interesting find, indeed.
I wonder, if the possibility of liquid in any form, could potentially mean the existance of life. I remember reading some time ago, about the possibility of silicon based life, and how it may not be practical on an oxygen rich environment.
Ammonia based life, could exists, if it were engineered, but the potential for it to occur spontaneously is virtually nil.

[edit on 8/22/2009 by reticledc]



posted on Aug, 23 2009 @ 06:03 PM
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Originally posted by ExPostFacto
So you are saying that if a planet had it's own internal heat source and an atmosphere it could be just as warm as earth even if it is further from the sun?


Well that depends a lot on how far you are willing to compare the heat... Say you live at sea level in near the equator when others live in minus zero in Alaska...

Well on a moon somewhere there could be large seas of liquid under the surface that are of comparable heat to the range of temperatures we live in - but the actual surface could be frozen solid... Weather or not there would be life there is another thing altogether, but we have found life on earth that seemingly has no direct link to the sun, so that's promising.



posted on Aug, 23 2009 @ 06:24 PM
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reply to post by ExPostFacto
 


Who is to say that atmosphere traps heat in?
Well, for one, anyone who has studied Venus.
Venus is pretty damned hot and it has a thick atmosphere. The moon has no atmosphere and is only hot when the sun is beating down on it.

And finally, I am no scientist but this question is pretty basic.

The Earth is cold when it is not in direct sunlight, but, and this is an important but... It is not as cold as space...

Therefore, if the Earth only goes down to -80c in say the Antarctic, but space is -250c . It is pretty straightforward that our atmosphere is trapping that heat in.

If you are wondering if our core conducts heat, it doesn't really. There are too many hard crusted areas that let minimal heat through. Most areas, especially in the north have a permafrost layer that does not go above freezing. In other areas that do allow heat transfer, the amount transferred is nowhere near enough to heat the planet.

The core serves its purpose as a protective shield by emitting an electromagnetic cover to protect us from solar radiation which would tear apart our atmosphere if not there.

There is an additional mountain of evidence as to why atmospheres keep planets warm, a quick google and you should have enough reading material to keep you busy for a few weeks.



posted on Aug, 23 2009 @ 06:41 PM
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Just to add one thing, to say that an atmosphere is trapping heat is wrong, it is more along the lines of regulating it. It lets a certain in, and it lets a certain amount out.

If our atmosphere was denser the regulation would change and we would be in a higher temperature range. If it was less dense it would be cooler. As you get higher in altitude temp goes down with pressure.



posted on Aug, 23 2009 @ 07:29 PM
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reply to post by threekings
 

There are two things to consider here:

1. There is an "anti-greenhouse effect" AND a greenhouse effect occurring on Titan.

2. The Inverse Square law.

First, let's talk about the anti-greenhouse effect/greenhouse effect (which is of less importance than the effects of the Inverse Square Law)...

...Because of Titan's haze, there is an "anti-greenhouse effect" going on there. The atmosphere of Titan stops 90% of the solar radiation from ever reaching the surface. There is in fact also a greenhouse effect happening (also due to the atmosphere trapping in the heat), but the anti-greenhouse effect counteracts (a little) of Titan's greenhouse effect.

AND MORE IMPORTANTLY...
...the Inverse-Square Law. The Inverse Square Law tells us that very little solar ever makes it to Saturn and Titan compared to the Earth -- the Earth receives about an average of 1375 watts per square meter of the Sun's radiation, while Titan receives only about 15 watts per square meter.

According to the Inverse Square Law, for every "doubling" of a distance, the Sun's intensity drops by a factor of 4. Therefore, because Titan is 9.5 times further from the Sun as the Earth is, using the inverse square law:

I (Intensity) = 1 / d^2 (1 divided by the distance[squared])
I = 1 / 9.5^2
I = 1 / 90.25
I = 0.01108

Therefore, Titan receives 0.01108 times the solar radiation as does the Earth -- that's only a little more than 1% of the Sun's intensity compared to the Earth.

So even if we forget about the "anti-greenhouse effect" and instead only consider the greenhouse effect on Titan, there is so little solar radiation reaching Titan that it does not get a chance to heat up.

I'm sure the greenhouse effect does keep the surface of Titan relatively warmer than other of Saturn's moon's (such as Enceladus), but because of the very low amount of the Sun's intensity that even reaches Titan in the first place, Titan is still very cold (cold enough to have liquid methane lakes).

LINKS:
Inverse Square Law
Anti-Greenhouse Efect


[edit on 8/23/2009 by Soylent Green Is People]



posted on Aug, 23 2009 @ 11:32 PM
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reply to post by Soylent Green Is People
 


I was replying to "You know it has always bugged me the presumption that distant planets are not as hot as they go away from the sun. I'm not a scientist but someone needs to explain why earth is habitable yet if a person goes into space without protection they would get cooked alive. Since light in space travels without blockage shouldn't heat travel in space without reduction of that heat? Who is to say that once an atmosphere is established around a planet it traps heat in?"

Not the Titan post. But informative none-the-less.



posted on Aug, 24 2009 @ 08:53 AM
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reply to post by threekings
 

First of all, the "heat" isn't actually traveling through space -- it's the particle of energy that travels. The heat isn't created until that particle hits something, and because space is a near-vacuum, those particles don't hit anything, so they don't create heat. If you put an object (such as an astronaut) in space, then those particles of energy will hit the astronaut and create heat.

Therefore, space itself is cold, but an object in space can be heated up by the particles of energy that hit it.

Having said that, the particles of energy that causes the something to heat up obey the Inverse Square law. That is as an astronaut gets farther away from the energy source (the Sun), there are less particles of energy hitting that astronaut, thus less heating up.

It is true, as you implied, that each single particle of energy will move unabated through space. However, when we are close to the Sun we are getting hit by many particles of energy. As we move farther away, we get hit by less particles of energy (based on the Inverse Square Law). When the particles (such as photons) leave and object such as the Sun, they are very close together and each moving in a straight line -- however, each of those straight lines of photons are spreading out radially in a direction away from the light source, so as they move farther from the source, each photon also moves farther away from the other photons.

HERE'S ANOTHER WAY TO THINK OF IT:

Think of a hollow sphere built around the Sun with a radius equal to the distance of the earth to the Sun (thus the hollow sphere would be as big as the orbit of the earth). Let's lets imagine the Sun gives off 1 billion photons (the actual number is much larger, bet lets say a billion). Those billion photons move out until the hit the inside of the sphere. When they do hit the sphere, they are evenly distributed at a certain distance from each other.

Now let's imaging a hollow sphere as big as the orbit of Saturn. Obviously the inside surface area of the sphere will be much, much larger than the inside surface area of the first sphere. Those same one billion photons will spread out until they hit the inside of the sphere. Again, those photons hitting the sphere will be evenly spaced, but they will be spaced farther away from each other as they were in the first sphere. Therefore less energy will be falling on each square unit of measure of the sphere.

In fact as the radius of the sphere doubles, the amount of photons falling on every square unit of measure of the sphere is reduced by a factor of 4. This is the Inverse Square Law.

It may be true that Titan's atmosphere can trap energy in, thus Titan's surface is warmer than the surface of its sister moon Enceladus. However, becuase every square meter of Titan receives 1% of the photons that one square meter of Earth receives, so little energy gets there in the first place that the trapping of that energy is not enough to make its temperature anywhere near what most humans would call "warm" (it is −180 °C on Titan).

So even a astronaut's space suit will be less heated by the Sun's energy if the Astronaut is in space near Titan as he would if he were spacewalking near Earth.



posted on Aug, 24 2009 @ 08:57 AM
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Originally posted by MR BOB
Wow thats cool. Our own galaxy is much more habitable than we thought. i wonder if that is a watering hole of any thing..

[edit on 22-8-2009 by MR BOB]


From article.


Spectral data also showed that the apparent lakes seem to be filled with methane and ethane, which would be liquid on Titan's frigid surface. And "geomorphologically, they just look like lakes", Zebker says.


Wonder what it feels like to swim in liquid methane and ethane? And wonder what the beings look like that drink it?



posted on Aug, 24 2009 @ 09:23 AM
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Originally posted by threekings
Who is to say that atmosphere traps heat in?
Well, for one, anyone who has studied Venus.
Venus is pretty damned hot and it has a thick atmosphere. The moon has no atmosphere and is only hot when the sun is beating down on it.


Don't forget our seas and oceans!! They are a very important heat sink, they convey heat and relative cold around the world and do a great job of regulating temperature.

In fact is one or two of these massive currents breaks down then in parts of the world it would make CO2 levels changing the climate look like a pleasant afternoon in the beer garden...



posted on Aug, 24 2009 @ 03:57 PM
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reply to post by Ferris.Bueller.II
 


Just Because it would melt us, if we jumped in there. Doesnt mean that it might not be a food scource for another organism in space.,

It could even be a fuel stop....you never know.

[edit on 24-8-2009 by MR BOB]



posted on May, 19 2010 @ 08:02 AM
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reply to post by refuse_orders
 


Hi. Interesting topic. I found this story cruising NYT Science pages.
New Evidence of a Fluid Sea on Saturn’s Moon Titan

Titan is the only body in the solar system other than Earth whose surface is known to hold stable fluids in a liquid state. The reflective sea — larger than the Caspian — is no vacation spot. The scientists calculate that its fluids are probably a mix of ethane and methane, with perhaps some liquid nitrogen thrown in for good measure. The temperature? About minus 300 degrees Fahrenheit.



Last July, a glint of sunlight from Saturn’s moon Titan sped through space and fell upon the sensors of the Cassini spacecraft, starting a process of discovery that is now strengthening the idea that the icy moon harbors liquid seas.

Reflections off Kraken Mare, a lake on Titan.
For full story www.nytimes.com...





[edit on 19-5-2010 by rusethorcain]




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