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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.
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?
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]
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.
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.
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.