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Thursday, August 04, 2005



No Methane Oceans On Titan?


[Media Source*]

(New Scientist Space) Saturn's moon Titan is as dry as a bone over most of its surface, suggest new infrared images from Earth.

The work supports similar observations from the Cassini spacecraft, in orbit around the Ringed Planet. And it suggests previous radar studies from the ground - which hinted the giant moon was covered in liquid methane seas - were actually detecting signs of liquid that had long since vanished.

Despite the pictures of methane rivers and the oceanic view from the shore, new data is coming in that concludes that Titan may have once had a thriving "methane cycle," but not anymore. Although more observations will have to be conducted, this comes as a major disappointment as an ocean of methane would have increased the real estate property on the Saturn's "beach houses."


But Cassini's visible and infrared cameras have failed to find the reflections expected from surface liquid...

"[Before Cassini] we expected to see a large amount of liquid on the surface - perhaps 100 metres deep on average," says lead author Robert West, a planetary scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, US. "Yet we don't see it. It's hard to understand."

Although this news may drop Titan's price in the billions (if not trillions), there may be a possible way to extract the methane from Titan's atmosphere. If such a procedure could be accomplished then establishing colonies within Saturn's system would be feasible as the only thing the system lacks is adequate resources (something Titan could have provided). Titan is still a wonder to many and regardless of what new data is announced, this world will continue to hold the curiosity of astronomer's around our homeworld, Earth.



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By Darnell Clayton • 12:30 PM • Email Post • •

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