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Space Science

Radar Evidence for Methane Lakes On Titan 24

Posted by michael
from the getting-our-feet-wet dept.
DrMorpheus writes "A series of 25 radar observations, taken when Saturn made close approaches to Earth in 2001 and 2002, have provided by far the best evidence yet of methane lakes. Astronomers have suspected since the Voyager fly-bys of the 1980s that liquid hydrocarbons were present on Titan's surface."
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Radar Evidence for Methane Lakes On Titan

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  • I think this propenderance of methane in space must have something to do with human titan Sherman Klump in the forthcoming "Nutty Professor III"
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Apologies to Kurt ("Wear Sunscreen") Vonnegut:

    There are sirens on Titan, and they sound like this [fungreetz.com].
  • by OneOver137 (674481) on Friday October 03, 2003 @08:39PM (#7129812) Journal
    http://sci.esa.int/science-e/www/object/index.cfm? fobjectid=31826

    But don't get too excited...
    "Titan is not a pleasant place for life. It is far too cold for liquid water to exist, and all known forms of life need liquid water. Titan's surface is -180?C. According to one exotic theory, long ago, the impact of a meteorite, for example, might have provided enough heat to liquify water for perhaps a few hundred or thousand years."
    • Something's wrong withthe link. Why is finding out there's liquid CH4 (that's methane right?) on Titan important? Is it just another piece of data about the solar system?
      • by Alsee (515537) on Saturday October 04, 2003 @11:19AM (#7132719) Homepage
        Why is finding out there's liquid CH4 (that's methane right?) on Titan important? Is it just another piece of data about the solar system?

        One word: life. Or at least an interesting possibility to look for life. It's like a lottery ticket, no matter how remote the chances are for finding life, it is important and exciting because the possible "payoff" is unimaginably huge. Life on earth arose in the oceans, and requires liquid water to fuction. Methane is an organic molecule, so we are taking about organic oceans or lakes. The moment you agree to look for life that is "different" than earth life it becomes very plausible and interesting to consider the possibility of life based on a different liquid.

        The linked article also mentions that they are pretty sure they have evidence of methane rain, just like the earth has water rain. There is also a probe that will parachute down onto Titan in 2005. They had to redesign the probe to handle a possible "splashdown" rather than a normal landing.

        -
    • all known forms of life need liquid water

      I think finding a "known form of life" on Titan would be far more shocking than finding an "unknow form of life" on Titan, LOL.

      -
  • "The final answer on Titan's methane will come 2005, when the European Space Agency's Huygens spaceprobe will parachute to the surface of Titan. Mindful of the possibility of a liquid landing, ESA have designed the probe to float and resist capsizing if necessary."

    Unfortunately, I don't think the Titan probe has any cameras. Thus, don't expect postcards of Titan beaches.
    • Re:Yes! photos! (Score:3, Informative)

      by deglr6328 (150198)
      The Titan Probe does indeed have cameras [arizona.edu]. It will take images all the way down once it passes the cloud deck and it even has the capability for rudimentary color images [arizona.edu]. Titan's beaches are in fact, just what we may see.
      • The Titan Probe does indeed have cameras.

        I stand corrected. It will be an interesting mission. I hope the discovered "dopler" problem does not significantly impact the photo part of the mission. When bandwidth becomes a premium, photos are often the first to be cut on such missions because imaging is a bandwidth hog. Thanks.

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