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Waves Spotted On Titan 73

minty3 writes "Planetary scientists believe they have observed waves rippling on one of Titan's seas. The findings, presented on March 17 at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, describes how the Cassini spacecraft captured images of sunlight glinting off the Punga Mare (abstract), suggesting they are not reflective sunlight but waves." The Planetary Society recently posted a nice breakdown of the basics about Titan's lakes: "To flow with liquid, those river valleys must have been filled with methane that came from higher elevations; it had to rain methane on Titan. Rainfall runs off, and then what? It must pool somewhere. What we learned from the Cassini orbiter at Saturn is that there are lakes on Titan. ... Rainfall, river runoff, lakes, evaporation into clouds, rainfall again. Cassini has seen clouds make storms on Titan. We have seen the whole cycle -- it's just like Earth's water cycle, but with a completely different substance [methane], and much, much colder."
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Waves Spotted On Titan

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  • by mythosaz ( 572040 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @07:37PM (#46520579)

    Two quick points.

    (1) Yeah, the first thing I thought to myself was, "Yeah, I watched Cosmos this week too."

    (2) I was initially surprised by the fact there wasn't more outrage over Cosmos tipping over conservative apple carts, but it then occured to me that everyone who would be offended by Cosmos was probably self-selecting to not watch anyway. Probably a lot of preaching to the choir going on on Sunday morning and night now. :(

  • by SoftwareArtist ( 1472499 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @08:40PM (#46520937)

    I wonder what sort of chemistry any organisms living in those lakes would have. The whole concept of hydrophobicity would be reversed. Polar groups would be "methanephilic" and nonpolar ones would be "methanephobic". They could still have cell walls made from lipids, but they'd be flipped around with the polar part on the inside.

  • by cyn1c77 ( 928549 ) on Wednesday March 19, 2014 @01:05AM (#46522077)

    Just to be clear for those who didn't read the article, this entire study is based on four brighter than expected pixels.

    Four pixels in the images are brighter than one might expect from reflecting sunlight, Barnes reported at the conference. He concluded that they must represent something particularly rough on the surface — a wave or set of waves.

It's fabulous! We haven't seen anything like it in the last half an hour! -- Macy's