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Space Science

Lake On Titan Winks From a Billion Kilometers Away 139

Posted by timothy
from the next-time-send-chocolate dept.
The Bad Astronomer writes "NASA's Cassini spacecraft took an image of Saturn's giant moon Titan earlier this year that serendipitously provides proof of liquid (probably methane) on its surface. The picture shows a glint of reflected sunlight off of a monster lake called Kraken Mare (larger than the Caspian Sea!). Scientists have been getting better and better evidence of liquid methane on Titan, but this is the first direct proof."
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Lake On Titan Winks From a Billion Kilometers Away

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  • Re:Proof (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MichaelSmith (789609) on Thursday December 17, 2009 @11:16PM (#30483138) Homepage Journal

    A bright light out around Saturn has to be the sun. So if your camera is not pointing at the sun it must be pointing at a reflection of the sun.

  • Fake. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mopomi (696055) on Friday December 18, 2009 @12:24AM (#30483526)
    We all know it's faked. Those slimy scientists will do anything to guarantee their funding for another year. Last year it was a decoupled lithosphere on Titan, now it's lakes of liquid hydrocarbons? Sure! Next it'll be seasonal rivers of liquid hydrocarbons, jets of water escaping from Enceladus, volcanism on Io, meteorites on Mars, people on the moon, etc., etc., etc. We really need to reign in these people.
  • Titan life bleak. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowsky@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Friday December 18, 2009 @12:32AM (#30483586) Homepage Journal

    The odds for life on Titan are bleak because it is so damned cold. How cold is Titan? Well, when your methane is liquid, as in, liquified natural gas, that's pretty damned cold. The other problem, I think, is a lack of oxygen. I think the basic blocks for life would be nitrogren, oxygen, hydrogen, carbon and I think a splash of sulfur, plus some form of energy. When you really think about it, life is basically a set of chemical reactions that go against the grain of entropy and produce a set of molecules that arrange things in a higher energy state. Like, the outcome of most dead things is to easily burn.

    Mercury is big metal blob and way too hot.
    Venus has too much carbon.
    Earth is nice.
    Mars is missing nitrogen.
    Jupiter / Saturn / Uranus / Neptune big hydrogen blobs.
    Pluto, other deep objects, are near absolute zero.

    Maybe Jupiter's moon Europa might luck out.

    But honestly, I would bet that if you included some terms in Drake's equation to allow for the probability of having all the elements in the right mix at the right distance from a star, then, it may well turn out that we are certainly alone in at least a 100 light year radius.

  • by Alarindris (1253418) on Friday December 18, 2009 @12:50AM (#30483692)
    The point of the metric system is consistent units of 10, not the naming conventions. They prefixes are basically as arbitrary as 12 in = 1 foot, as no one speaks latin anymore.
  • by Alarindris (1253418) on Friday December 18, 2009 @05:31AM (#30484904)
    That's my point, metric's usefulness is the math part. The prefixes could be called anything, they could be iimeter, imeter, meter, Imeter, IImeter, etc.

    That part you still have to memorize just like 5280ft in a mile.

If a camel is a horse designed by a committee, then a consensus forecast is a camel's behind. -- Edgar R. Fiedler

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