A miniature extraterrestrial version of Africa's Nile River Valley has been spotted on Saturn’s moon Titan - it stretches more than 400 km from its "headwaters" to a large sea.
Have you ever before seen such a large river system in high resolution outside Earth? No, you have not.
Scientists deduce that the river is filled with liquid because it appears dark along its entire extent in the high-resolution radar image, indicating a smooth surface.
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.
Images from Cassini’s visible-light cameras in late 2010 revealed regions that darkened after 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.
Sort of 'Nile River' on Titan. Image was acquired on 26 September 2012, on Cassini’s 87th close flyby. The river valley crosses Titan’s north polar region and runs into Kraken Mare, one of the three great seas in the high northern latitudes of the moon. Credit: NASA/JPL–Caltech/ASI
“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,” says Jani Radebaugh, a Cassini radar team associate at Brigham Young University. “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.”
“This radar-imaged river by Cassini provides another fantastic snapshot of a world in motion, which was first hinted at from the images of channels and gullies seen by ESA’s Huygens probe as it descended to the moon’s surface in 2005,” says Nicolas Altobelli, ESA’s Cassini Project Scientist.
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- New President - Pivot To Moon On Way To Mars? Lunar Spelunking & Science Surprises
- A Dimuon Particle At 30 GeV In ALEPH ??
- BPA-Free, With Regrets
- Debunking: A President Of The US Could Order A Nuclear Attack At A Moments Notice On A Whim
- A Racist On The Jews: Let The Donald Trump!
- President Obama, Why Humans On Mars Right Now Are Bad For Science
- Was Euclid A Black Woman? Sorting Through The False History And Bad Philosophy Of Mathematics
- "Hi Dan!Thanks, glad you like it. I'm in the UK so I know what you mean about tensions between the..."
- "Oh if it was real, astronomers would have been tracking it for several decades. It would have been..."
- "Robert! You are my new favorite writer. Period. John..."
- "Hi Robert! This has to be one of the best articles i have read in a very long time. I live in Norway..."
- "Mr walker i got on the nibiru hoax if it was real would be visible like the death star on the rogue..."
- When All Else Fails, Bribing Kids to Eat Better
- Kathleen Gyllenhaal: 'IN UTERO' in Hollywood Q&A
- Herpes Vaccine Update: Dr. Halford Answers 'the Big Question'
- The media is not helping in the battle against SIDS
- Busted Breast Cancer Myths
- SIDS Recommendations Evolving Beyond 'Back to Sleep'