Mysterious spots on one of Saturn’s moons found to be dry lake beds

In the early 2000s, astronomers noticed mysterious bright spots on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. A new study has determined that the spots, which are more than 3,000 miles wide, are remnants of dried-up lakes. 

“Titan is still currently the only other place in the universe that we know to have liquid on its surface, just like the Earth,” said Jason Hofgartner, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. 

In addition to ancient lakes, Titan also has an active weather system that rains down methane and ethane occasionally. Some of these hydrocarbons are thought to have collected in larger bodies of liquid over time.

Observations from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, and the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia were used to determine that the pools were concentrated near the moon’s poles. They may have evaporated as a result of the Sun’s radiation. 

Hopefully, we will soon know more about this fascinating moon as NASA is planning to send a spacecraft to Titan by 2034 as part of its Dragonfly mission. Yesterday we discussed the discovery that our galaxy holds 36 sites of potential life. This is another finding that could have bold implications for the existence of extraterrestrial life in our star system.

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Mysterious spots on one of Saturn’s moons found to be dry lake beds

In the early 2000s, astronomers noticed mysterious bright spots on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. A new study has determined that the spots, which are more than 3,000 miles wide, are remnants of dried-up lakes. 

“Titan is still currently the only other place in the universe that we know to have liquid on its surface, just like the Earth,” said Jason Hofgartner, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. 

In addition to ancient lakes, Titan also has an active weather system that rains down methane and ethane occasionally. Some of these hydrocarbons are thought to have collected in larger bodies of liquid over time.

Observations from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, and the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia were used to determine that the pools were concentrated near the moon’s poles. They may have evaporated as a result of the Sun’s radiation. 

Hopefully, we will soon know more about this fascinating moon as NASA is planning to send a spacecraft to Titan by 2034 as part of its Dragonfly mission. Yesterday we discussed the discovery that our galaxy holds 36 sites of potential life. This is another finding that could have bold implications for the existence of extraterrestrial life in our star system.

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