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Space Science

Radio Wave on Saturn's Moon Hints at Hidden Ocean 101

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the still-no-spice dept.
SleepyHappyDoc writes "The European Space Agency has announced that a mysterious radio wave may indicate the existence of a hidden ocean underneath the surface of Titan. The Cassini-Huygens spaceprobe, which entered Titan's atmosphere over two years ago, collected evidence and information which has led to this potential discovery. This technology may lead to entirely new ways of finding out information about other planets."
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Radio Wave on Saturn's Moon Hints at Hidden Ocean

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  • by Tablizer (95088) on Monday June 04, 2007 @05:19PM (#19387427) Homepage Journal
    ...Beach Boys tunes
  • by Skeetskeetskeet (906997) on Monday June 04, 2007 @05:25PM (#19387487)
    "Bugs Bunny to Earth..Bugs Bunny to Earth...." "GET ME OUTTA HEEEEEEEEERE!!"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 04, 2007 @05:26PM (#19387499)
    People have suspected this before, since the core is hot, and there is frozen methane on the surface, isn't it obvious there should be a liquids in the middle layer?

    Question is, is there underground life? If so what the heck does it look like and what does it do?

    I hope the Huygens probe hasn't contaminated the environment my spreading earth bacteria.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by dreamchaser (49529)
      Do methane breathing creatures fart oxygen? That's the important question here!
    • People have suspected this before, since the core is hot, and there is frozen methane on the surface, isn't it obvious there should be a liquids in the middle layer?

      No. In science, like patents, nothing is obvious. Everything is classified as Eureka.

      Question is, is there underground life? If so what the heck does it look like and what does it do?

      Who cares as long as it doesn't look like something you'd find on Goatse.cx.

      I hope the Huygens probe hasn't contaminated the environment my spreading earth bacteria.

      Sorry, but I'm sure it has. We are humans and we eventually ruin everything we touch.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ProteusQ (665382)

        We are humans and we eventually ruin everything we touch.

        Yeah, but the dinosaurs touched it first, and apparently the cockroaches have always been touching it, so your pessimism is quite unfounded.

    • by lucabrasi999 (585141) on Monday June 04, 2007 @05:46PM (#19387789) Journal
      Question is, is there underground life? If so what the heck does it look like

      Actually, it looks like Paris Hilton.



      and what does it do?

      Shockingly enough, it pretty much does nothing, just like Paris Hilton.

      • by metlin (258108)

        Question is, is there underground life? If so what the heck does it look like

        Actually, it looks like Paris Hilton.

        and what does it do?

        Shockingly enough, it pretty much does nothing, just like Paris Hilton.

        Yeah right. That's a great way to make first contact.

        Alien or not, that comparison is just unfair. :-\

        I could make a Sarah Silverman joke [youtube.com], but that would be unfair, too.

    • by Ucklak (755284)
      They probably wear silly costumes and speak english. If they travelled here in a space rocket of their design, they would be naked.
    • by Xoq jay (1110555)
      Actually there is liquid methane and frozen water..
      Since the planet's temperature is around 179 C, the water is rock solid and the methane is in liquid state like what water is to us.

      Curiously, when the first pictures of Titan's surface appeared, they showed a earth-like surface, with rivers of methane similar to our rivers of water.

      Also... Water vulcanos! how cool is that?
    • by teslar (706653)

      Question is, is there underground life? If so what the heck does it look like and what does it do?
      Nevermind that but it better not taste of chicken :)
    • I don't know but if it resembles Jar Jar in anyways I vote we nuke that rock and quickly!!!
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Monday June 04, 2007 @05:27PM (#19387533)

    ...a mysterious radio wave may indicate the existence of a hidden ocean underneath the surface of Titan.... This technology may lead to entirely new ways of finding out information about other planets.


    I thought Titan was a MOON (or a "satellite")
    • by drinkypoo (153816)
      It's true, Titan is a moon and not a planet, because it is a satellite of a planet and not a star. But the statement is still true; further study of this phenomenon will give us information useful in the examination of remote planets and moons.
    • Same can be said about medical tests done on mice to improve knowledge of how drugs or diseases affect humans.

      But mice are RODENTS!
    • "Other planets" referred to planets other than Earth, not other than Titan.
    • by Trogre (513942)
      Oh no, please don't start up that again. Look, it's a roughly spherical lump of rock, in space with a star in its vicinity. Can't we just call it a 2nd-level planet and move on?

  • by RobertB-DC (622190) * on Monday June 04, 2007 @05:37PM (#19387675) Homepage Journal
    We've got a thing that's called: Radar Love
    We've got a wave in the air...
    Radar Love...

    (With apologies to the esteemed Golden Earring [wikipedia.org], and to the moderators whose fingers may be sprained modding down yet another inane, content-free comment.)
  • "Mysterious wave" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by N7DR (536428) on Monday June 04, 2007 @05:41PM (#19387717) Homepage
    The European Space Agency has announced that a mysterious radio wave...

    And there's no point in reading TFA in order to try to remove any of the mystery. Frequency? Duration? Periodicity/repeatability? Any characteristics whatsoever? Not a single useful property is mentioned in the article. In fact, apparently it's not even certain that it's not an artifact.

    Actually, the whole thing is a rather weird: not only do they not give any details whatsoever, but I find it difficult to countenance that a scientist would talk about a "radio wave" rather than a "signal" or "emission" in this context. Speaking from my background as a co-investigator on the Planetary Radio Astronomy experiment on Voyager, the word "wave" is usually reserved for theoretical treatments in published papers.

    Anyway, I guess we just have to wait for the upcoming issue of "Planetary and Space Science" to see what the article is really talking about.

    • Re:"Mysterious wave" (Score:5, Informative)

      by ferd_farkle (208662) on Monday June 04, 2007 @05:50PM (#19387829)
      A quick googling turns up http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/whycassi ni/cassinif-20070601-02.html [nasa.gov],
      an article with considerably more explanation, including that they are investigating through actual simulation whether it could be an artefact of the instrument.
      • From the FA cited above:

        "The wave could have been reflected by the liquid-ice boundary of a subsurface ocean of water and ammonia predicted by theoretical models," says Fernando Simões, CETP/IPSL-CNRS, France, and a member of the PWA team.

        ...And dirty windows everywhere called for the extermination of the Titanoids, who might one day unleash thousands of cubic kilometers of cold Windex [wikipedia.org] on a hapless Earth...

    • by surgeon (61206) *

      and the cold fiddeling after the announcement :)

      (science sells)

    • by BillX (307153)
      the word "wave" is usually reserved for theoretical treatments in published papers.

      You mean in the context of "Big Hand ..."?
  • They're in our bases stealing our weapons!
  • by Leontes (653331) on Monday June 04, 2007 @05:46PM (#19387787)
    Ok. We have many extra-solar planets. We've got water on mars. We've got an ocean on titan. We've got massive amounts of funding on SETI. We had that SETI at home running for years... Despite that now-pretty-much-debunked mars metorite... When is that we will find believable proof of extraterra life? I'm convinced life has to be out there. When we will find it? I doubt we will find it anytime soon. We aren't spending enough money and we aren't capable of leaving this island world of ours. Intelligent life that we can communicate with or interact with in a meaningful? Highly unlikely. The universe is just too damn big and the chances of intelligence development too small. We may have found an ocean on titan: I really wish the task of finding extraterresterial life wasn't so minimal.
    • You have to remember that the results we're getting now (Cassini, Mars rover) is from probes based on the technology developed mid-80's to early 90's. The next generation of probes, based on 21st century technology, will be able to look for life but most of them won't start returning data until something like 2015. So my guess would be that we'll be seeing some results about then.
    • by oni (41625) on Monday June 04, 2007 @06:33PM (#19388361) Homepage
      No, not *that* genesis (but I made you look, didn't I). The answer to the question, "why haven't we found life yet" really lies in the fact that what actually gets life going is still quite a mystery. As you know, scientists can simulate the conditions of early Earth and they can produce amino acids, but they can't produce DNA or simple cellular life.

      My point is, we may still be missing something important and fundamental. That's what makes science so interesting. There is always something else to discover.

      In Dawkins' book, The Blind Watchmaker, he makes reference to the work of another biologist whose name escapes me at the moment. But that guy's theory is that silicate crystals in soft clay are the necessary to get early life going. The theory goes like this: imagine a river with clay at the bottom. The clay forms microscopic crystals, which sometimes catch and constrain amino acids and other building blocks, like stuff getting stuck in the strainer in your sink.

      As the crystals grow, they sometimes "empty the strainer" basically spitting out these now larger strands of amino acids. The strands and structures flow further down the river and inevitably get stuck in another crystal. There they grow larger and eventually get spit out. The process repeats all the way down the river.

      At the mouth of the river, you've got billions of different pre-biotic experiments washing out into the sea. Just by chance, one of those experiments is able to reproduce itself. Life is unstoppable at that point.

      So what I'm getting at is this: we keep finding *some* of the building blocks, but we aren't finding them arranged the correct way. A static sea (maybe even with hydrothermal vents) on Titan or Europa or Mars may be able to support current Earth life, but it may not be able to spark that all-important genesis event.

      On the other hand, early Mars may have been perfect for this.
      • by rrohbeck (944847)
        Check out the title story of June's Scientific American.

        A Simpler Origin for Life
        BY ROBERT SHAPIRO
        Energy-driven networks of small molecules may be more likely
        first steps for life than the commonly held idea of the sudden
        emergence of large self-replicating molecules such as RNA.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by inviolet (797804)

        No, not *that* genesis (but I made you look, didn't I). The answer to the question, "why haven't we found life yet" really lies in the fact that what actually gets life going is still quite a mystery.

        No, it's not a mystery at all, you heathen. The answer is stated very clearly in Genesis.

      • by Tracy Reed (3563)
        Genesis?!?! Genesis allowed is not!
    • by Bob-taro (996889)

      I'm convinced life has to be out there.
      But we just don't know, do we? We have theories about the conditions required for life and about mechanisms which can produce it, but it's never been duplicated in a lab, and it's mostly based on what we think must have happened on earth. I think, scientifically, we may have to admit that we have no idea what the odds are that life as we know it exists on any other planet.
    • half-serious and slightly OT, but I fear us finding life out there. If they're anything like us and can travel through space they'll probably say something like:

      "They found us, time to launch the interstellar planet destroying device - they have WMD's... somewhere... and oil!"
    • Perhaps the level of intelligent life out there considers us to be about as intelligent as we consider amoeba's? At this time, just discovering LIFE even if it's a bacteria would be significant. Don't give up on SETI there are new signals coming in all the time that need analysis. Remember we've only been producing electomagnetic signals that could leave Earth for less than 100yrs. If Civilization X got one of our early radio broadcasts which would be incredible in and of itself as weak as the signal would
    • Few people want to admit this, but I'm pretty much convinced that we're alone in the galaxy, primarily because of the Fermi Paradox [wikipedia.org]. Specifically, the argument that it takes a "relatively" short time (on galactic scales) for a space-faring civilization to fill up a galaxy, even at sublight speeds, when you factor in geometric progression. If intelligent life was common, one would've filled up the galaxy by now and we wouldn't even exist.

      • by Dog-Cow (21281)
        That makes no sense at all. Assuming that, on a Universal time-scale, life elsewhere started around the same time as life here, there's no way the galaxy would be full. After all, we haven't managed a colony on our own moon yet, much less on other planets or planets in other solar systems. Why would you assume that other forms of life would be that much more advanaced than us?
        • Assuming that, on a Universal time-scale, life elsewhere started around the same time as life here, there's no way...

          Er, why would you assume that? The earth is 4.5 billion years old. The galaxy is 13 billion years old. It take about 5 million years (give or take) to fill up a galaxy. Five million years is nothing in the scheme of things.

          After all, we haven't managed a colony on our own moon yet, much less on other planets or planets in other solar systems.

          We've gone from stone tablets to space tr

          • > We've gone from stone tablets to space travel in five thousand years.

            You mean, we've gone back to space travel. You're forgetting the previous 25,000 and 12,000 years ago when the pyramids were built, and about the cycle of civilizations - they build up, peak and bottom out, roughly half of the Earth's precission wobble, ~ 13k years.

            --
            Mind NOT Space, is the final frontier. Time is just a dimension of the mind.
    • Actually, I believe the funding for SETI is minute as is the total amount of time they have actually been listening (given they have to beg, borrow and steal facility time) and the amount of sky covered. The idea that "we should have found something by now" really only holds true if they were scanning the entire sky 24-7 with adequate funding - but none of that is happening with SETI.
  • I'd ask if I could download a sample of this, but quickly realized the rights to the music may belong to some kind of quasi-sentient lawyer-being or, worse yet, a RIAA radio station/satellite launched into the moon just to catch me.
  • by leighklotz (192300) on Monday June 04, 2007 @05:49PM (#19387825) Homepage
    >On Earth, radio waves occur naturally during lightning strikes, which cause electrons in the atmosphere to oscillate and release the waves. These radio waves bounce back and forth between the Earth's surface and its ionosphere, the high-up region of the atmosphere filled with electrically-charged particles.

    I do this myself on earth a lot. It's lot of fun to experiment.

    In the past month, I was able to bounce a radio wave of approximately 20 meters to 40 meters in length from California to Hawaii [wa5znu.org], Mexico [wa5znu.org], Australia [wa5znu.org], the Bering Sea [wa5znu.org], Pacific Islands [wa5znu.org], Vladivostok [wa5znu.org], Khabarosk [wa5znu.org] (Russia 20km from Chinese border, where they had the chemical spill [google.com] a couple of years ago), and South Africa [wa5znu.org].

    Some of this was with off-on keying of an RF carrier, and some with digital-signal processing software running on Linux (both extremely weak signal [pe2pe.eu] modes originally designed for bouncing signals off the Moon, and more conversational [wa5znu.org] modes.)
  • Wake me up when we find a planet covered in beer. I'll be the first to volunteer for a suspended animation trip there!
  • Saturn Influences (Score:2, Informative)

    by surgeon (61206) *
    "The results would also be unusual because Titan's dusty surface makes a poor reflector of radio waves"

    A potential problem, especially if they were scanning the lower frequencies, is the probable contamination by Saturn's scattered light
  • wait... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jcgam69 (994690) on Monday June 04, 2007 @06:14PM (#19388123)

    The next step for the researchers is to determine if the signal detected was the result of an error in the probe.
    Shouldn't you do that first before making a major announcement to the world press??
    • by surgeon (61206) *
      Using planets or satellites for calibrating astronomical observations requires taking into account their spectral dependence, and bears intrinsic uncertainties. For all solar-system objects, one has to take into account the phase effect, and possible spatial variability over the instruments due to surface morphology or climatology. ..and in the case of Callisto and Titan respectively, the possible scattered light from Jupiter and Saturn.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Shouldn't (one verify facts) first before making a major announcement to the world press??

      Oh, puh-lease! That approach is so pre-9/11.
      • by Adambomb (118938)
        Is that really funny? Since we don't have an Apt or Depressing mod, i'd say Insightful at least.
  • I'll bet it's a pirate radio station blasting They Might Be Giants' "The Sun is a mass of incandescent gas....."
  • to the building of Titan Zoo, and populating it with monkeys that look like Rimmer's mum.
  • ...the Cassini-Huygens spaceprobe made a descent over two years ago onto Titan, the only moon in the solar system known to have an atmosphere.

    ...If you ignore Triton's atmosphere http://www.aas.org/publications/baas/v30n3/dps98/4 0.htm [aas.org], or our own Moon's http://www.iac.es/galeria/mrk/atmo_lun.html [www.iac.es] or that of Enceladus http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/enceladus_at mosphere_050316.html [space.com] or Io's http://www.solarviews.com/eng/iomountain.htm [solarviews.com], Europa's http://www.windows.ucar.edu/tour/link=/jupiter/moo ns/e [ucar.edu]

  • I'm thinking black monolith.
  • ET is just trying to phone home.
  • by charlesbakerharris (623282) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @10:55AM (#19396655)
    Please, check out Titan all you want. Just don't freaking land on Europa.
  • "Good day, gentlemen. This is a pre-recorded briefing made prior to your departure, and which for security reasons of the highest importance has been known onboard during the mission only by your HAL 9000 computer. Now that you are in Jupiter's space and the entire crew is revived, it can be told to you. 18 months ago, the first evidence of intelligent life off the Earth was discovered. It was buried 40 feet below the lunar surface, near the crater Tycho. Except for a single very powerful radio emission, a

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