Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Mystery: Missing Waves on Saturn Moon Titan

Waves on Titan (splash)
A new ScienceCast video ponders the mystery of the missing waves on Titan. Play it

One of the most shocking discoveries of the past 10 years is how much the landscape of Saturn's moon Titan resembles Earth.  Like our own blue planet, the surface of Titan is dotted with lakes and seas; it has river channels, islands, mud, rain clouds and maybe even rainbows.

The "water" on Titan is not, however, H2O.  With a surface temperature dipping 290 degrees F below zero, Titan is far too cold for liquid water. Instead, researchers believe the fluid that sculpts Titan is an unknown mixture of methane, ethane, and other hard-to-freeze hydrocarbons.

Yet something has been bothering Alex Hayes, a planetary scientist on the Cassini radar team at Cornell University.

If Titan is really so wet, he wonders, "Where are all the waves?"

"We know there is wind on Titan," says Hayes. "The moon's magnificent sand dunes [prove] it."

Add to that the low gravity of Titan—only 1/7th that of Earth—which offers so little resistance to wave motion, and you have a real puzzle.

More - Link >>> http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/22jul_titan/

Source: NASA Science News.

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