The Titan Moon has canyons flooded with methane, according to photos taken by Cassini, in May 2013. An intricate network of dark canyons on Saturn’s largest moon surface has one of Titan’s biggest secrets.
Images sent by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft show Titan’s abrupt canyons, which are filled with liquid methane.
The finding is the first irrefutable evidence of liquid-filled channels on Titan’s surface and it is the first exploration of very deep canyons.
While Earth is a rocky planet, with a mild climate, and lots of water in liquid form, the Titan moon is an icy, cold world, with methane rivers. But some of the features found in both places are strikingly similar. For example, methane waterfalls, and canyons are similar to what we can see on Earth.
Even though in recent years, the search for life in space concentrated on places similar to Earth, or Earth candidates, scientists are starting to take into consideration that extreme climates, too could harbor some type of small organic life, capable of withstanding huge temperature variations, or temperatures that are unimaginable on Earth’s surface.
For life to be able to develop on Titan, it should be capable to function in liquid methane, at temperatures of -180 degrees Celsius.
With the low gravity force on Titan and the thick atmosphere, methane raindrops on Titan would look twice as big as raindrops on Earth.
The scientists could better understand what lies at the bottom of the Titan canyons by using the Cassini’s radar. It sent radio waves to Titan to measure the depth of the canyons. Scientists looked at how the radio waves reflected off the bottom of the canyons and compared the data to previous images they had. They came up with the conclusion that Titan holds huge liquid methane gas resources.
The gas carved its way through the moon’s landscape over millions of years, much like water digging canyons on Earth.
Titan’s geological evolution is not yet clear, so scientists are not entirely sure how the methane got there. Further research is needed to establish a clear history of the Titan moon.
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Image Source – Wikipedia