Saturday, July 07, 2012

UA scientist reports underground methane lake on Titan

 A research team led by planetary scientist Caitlin Griffith of the University of Arizona, reports in the journal Nature, that they discovered a 2400 square kilometer methane lake in the tropical region of Saturn's moon Titan. An accompanying news story in the journal says "Any surface liquid there should evaporate and be transported to the cooler poles, where it should condense as rain."   Caitlin is quoted "Lakes at the poles are easy to explain, but lakes in the tropics are not."

The discovery suggests the possibility that subsurface "oases" of methane are replenishing the lake, which offers tantalizing possibilities for nurturing life on the moon.

 [Right, Titan mosaic from the Huygens probe and Cassini orbiter radar image. The landing site is marked by the red X.  Credit, ESA/NASA/JPL/University of Arizona/USGS]

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