Rivers on Titan : Cassini

Credit: NASA / JPL

Credit: NASA / JPL

There are times when the mystery and wonder gradually being revealed in our own solar system borders on intoxicating, and no deep space probe has done a better job of pealing back the layers than Cassini.  It is hard to believe that this mission, launched in 1997 from the same pad now occupied by SpaceX and the Falcon 9 is still producing the quantity and quality of data from Saturn’s system.

Press release below:

PASADENA, Calif. – Scientists with NASA’s Cassini mission have spotted what appears to be a miniature, extraterrestrial likeness of Earth’s Nile River: a river valley on Saturn’s moon Titan that stretches more than 200 miles (400 kilometers) from its “headwaters” to a large sea. It is the first time images have revealed a river system this vast and in such high resolution anywhere other than Earth.

Scientists deduce that the river, which is in Titan’s north polar region, is filled with liquid hydrocarbons because it appears dark along its entire length in the high-resolution radar image, indicating a smooth surface.

“Though there are some short, local meanders, the relative straightness of the river valley suggests it follows the trace of at least one fault, similar to other large rivers running into the southern margin of this same Titan sea,” said Jani Radebaugh, a Cassini radar team associate at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. “Such faults – fractures in Titan’s bedrock — may not imply plate tectonics, like on Earth, but still lead to the opening of basins and perhaps to the formation of the giant seas themselves.”

The new image is available online at: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/multimedia/pia16197.html .

Titan is the only other world we know of that has stable liquid on its surface. While Earth’s hydrologic cycle relies on water, Titan’s equivalent cycle involves hydrocarbons such as ethane and methane. In Titan’s equatorial regions, images from Cassini’s visible-light cameras in late 2010 revealed regions that darkened due to recent rainfall. Cassini’s visual and infrared mapping spectrometer confirmed liquid ethane at a lake in Titan’s southern hemisphere known as Ontario Lacus in 2008.

“Titan is the only place we’ve found besides Earth that has a liquid in continuous movement on its surface,” said Steve Wall, the radar deputy team lead, based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. “This picture gives us a snapshot of a world in motion. Rain falls, and rivers move that rain to lakes and seas, where evaporation starts the cycle all over again. On Earth, the liquid is water; on Titan, it’s methane; but on both it affects most everything that happens.”

The radar image here was taken on Sept. 26, 2012. It shows Titan’s north polar region, where the river valley flows into Kraken Mare, a sea that is, in terms of size, between the Caspian Sea and the Mediterranean Sea on Earth. The real Nile River stretches about 4,100 miles (6,700 kilometers). The processes that led to the formation of Earth’s Nile are complex, but involve faulting in some regions.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and ASI, the Italian Space Agency. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The radar instrument was built by JPL and the Italian Space Agency, working with team members from the US and several European countries. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

Posted in: Space Science

About the Author:

9 Comments on "Rivers on Titan : Cassini"

Trackback | Comments RSS Feed

  1. I will right away take hold of your rss as I
    can not find your e-mail subscription link or e-newsletter
    service. Do you have any? Please let me realize so
    that I may just subscribe. Thanks.

  2. I’m not that much of a internet reader to be honest
    but your blogs really nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back later. Cheers

  3. My partner and I stumbled over here by a different web
    page and thought I might check things out. I like
    what I see so i am just following you. Look forward to exploring your web page repeatedly.

  4. Its such as you learn my thoughts! You seem to know so
    much approximately this, such as you wrote the
    e-book in it or something. I think that you just could do with some % to pressure the message home a bit, but other than that, this is great blog. An excellent read. I’ll definitely be back. tarot reading

  5. Useful info. Fortunate me I discovered your web site by chance, and I am shocked why this coincidence didn’t took place earlier! I bookmarked it. best dating sites

  6. Have you ever thought about adding a little bit more than just your articles?

    I mean, what you say is fundamental and all.
    Nevertheless imagine if you added some great pictures or
    videos to give your posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent
    but with images and clips, this blog could undeniably be one of
    the very best in its field. Awesome blog!

  7. Hello there, I discovered your web site by way of Google whilst searching for a comparable matter, your web site got here
    up, it appears great. I’ve bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.
    Hello there, just was alert to your blog through Google, and found that it is really informative. I’m gonna watch out for brussels.
    I’ll appreciate in the event you continue this in future. Many other people will be benefited out of your writing. Cheers!

  8. Excellent article. Keep posting such kind of info on your site.
    Im really impressed by your blog.
    Hey there, You’ve performed an excellent job. I will certainly digg it and in my view recommend to my friends. I’m sure they’ll be benefited from this website. link building in 2013

  9. cover photos says:

    Thanks for one’s marvelous posting! I truly enjoyed reading it, you will be a great author.I will be sure to bookmark your blog and definitely will come back down the road. I want to encourage you continue your great job, have a nice evening!

Post a Comment

π
WordPress Login Protected by Clef