OCT 22, 2019 3:52 PM PDT

Here's What We Know So Far About Titan's Liquid Methane Oceans

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Titan is perhaps one of the most captivating moons orbiting Saturn today; so much so that astronomers spent a lot of time studying it when the Cassini mission roamed the Saturnine system. Not only is it one of the largest moons in the entire solar system, but it’s also covered in liquid oceans that may support the chemistry needed to harbor alien life.

Based on what we’ve just told you, you might be thinking that Titan is like a miniature Earth, but this isn’t so. Titan’s oceans are made of liquid methane, a far cry from the Earth’s liquid water oceans. Moreover, Titan’s physical makeup is a lot different from Earth’s, with Titan being a cold and icy place and the Earth being a warn and habitable place.

NASA’s Cassini mission spent a lot of time studying Titan while it was perusing the Saturnine system, and it was then that planetary scientists confirmed the existence of liquid methane oceans on world’s surface. Images have also revealed methane clouds, which indicate that Titan experiences a methane cycle akin to Earth’s water cycle. These same images also show canyons and other formations carved from flowing liquid.

Scientists were particularly intrigued to learn that Titan’s lakes exhibited few surface ripples. In fact, if you were to look at one in person, it would appear as a massive pane of horizontal glass in the landscape. We have yet to understand why there aren’t any waves on Titan, but some have suggested that it could be related to the smaller gravitational influence or the effects of aerosols on the surface.

While Titan is chemically different from Earth, that doesn’t mean that the moon isn’t habitable. It’s entirely possible that Titan supports at least microbial life forms that rely on the methane much like similar life on Earth relies on water. We won’t know for certain until we visit the world up close and personal…

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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