Feeds

Is that a lake on Titan?

Book your sailing holiday, now

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Build a business case: developing custom apps

A dark patch on the surface of Titan, moon of Saturn, might be a lake filled with liquid hydrocarbons, astronomers have said.

It might be a lake. Picture: Ciclops

The picture, snapped by the Cassini spacecraft, shows a dark shape 235km by 75km in the moon's southern polar region (the red dot marks the pole itself). Scientists are hesitating to pronounce the object a lake with any kind of certainty, because no open bodies of liquid have yet been found on the moon, despite predictions that they should be there.

However, according to the imaging team: "The shore-like smoothness of its perimeter and its presence in an area where frequent convective storm clouds have been observed by Cassini and Earth-based astronomers make it the best candidate thus far."

Other possible explanations of the feature include it being a sinkhole, or an old volcanic caldera, filled with dark, solid hydrocarbons. It could also be an old lake that has dried up, leaving behind dark hydrocarbon deposits.

One way of finding out for sure whether or not the feature is a lake will be to look for glints of reflected sunlight on the surface. So far, however, the space craft has not been in the right position to see any reflections. A further 39 flybys are planned, and the imaging team says it will be looking at the area again in greater detail. ®

Related stories

Scientists reveal Titanic panorama
Say what you like about Saturn: its moons really have atmosphere
Titan: rains of methane, mountains of ice

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
Boffins build CYBORG-MOTHRA but not for evil: For search & rescue
This tiny bio-bot will chew through your clothes then save your life
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.