- Using data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, scientists have found that there are small liquid lakes in Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. Titan is the solar system’s second largest moon; the first largest moon being Jupiter’s Ganymede. Previously, Cassini data measured Ontario Lacus, the only major lake in Titan’s southern hemisphere.
- These lakes are composed of methane and are more than 100 metres deep. Other than lakes, Titan also hosts rivers and seas of hydrocarbons. Titan is the only other planetary body in our solar system other than earth known to have stable liquid on its surface.
- Titan’s hydrological cycle works similar to Earth. However, the major difference is that instead of water evaporating, ethane and methane evaporates from the water bodies of Titan.
- The Cassini spacecraft has had helped study the geology and hydrology of Titan. From the studies, big seas with low elevation, canyons and islands were found on the eastern side of the Titan. Small but deep lakes have been found on the western side.
- The fact that the western lakes are small have put insights on the geology. According to scientists, these have been likely formed when the surrounding bedrock of ice and solid organics chemically dissolved and collapsed.
- The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (European Space Agency) and the Italian Space Agency. The spacecraft arrived in the Saturn system in 2004 and ended its mission in 2017
- It was the first to orbit Saturn, first to land in the outer solar system and first to sample an extra-terrestrial ocean.
3 min read