Feeds

Could there be lakes on Titan?

Hoist the mainsail...

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

New radar maps of Titan appear to show that the moon has surface lakes dotted around its northern pole. No solar system object other than Earth has been shown to have standing bodies of liquid on its surface, so the discovery is remarkable.

Titan's lakes would not, of course, be full of water. They would almost certainly be some kind of hydrocarbon - most likely methane or ethane.

The radar maps show dark patches with channels leading in and out of them. Some of the patches are completely black to radar, indicating they are extremely smooth. Others have rims around the edges, suggesting liquid has been evaporating, leaving a deposit behind.

The top image above shows a region around 260 miles by 93 miles. The lower of the two is slightly longer: 295 miles by 93 miles, according to the boffins at NASA's JPL.

Scientists have speculated for some time that liquid methane might exist in Titan's colder polar regions. If these are bodies of liquid, they should change over time - becoming smaller or larger, or even rougher as winds create waves on their surfaces. If they are lakes, this kind of thing should show up in future images of these areas. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
FORGET the CLIMATE: FATTIES are a MUCH BIGGER problem - study
Fat guy? Drink or smoke? You're worse than a TERRORIST
Renewable energy 'simply WON'T WORK': Top Google engineers
Windmills, solar, tidal - all a 'false hope', say Stanford PhDs
Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'
NOT best position for scientific fulfillment
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rocking boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
LIFE, JIM? Comet probot lander found 'ORGANICS' on far-off iceball
That's it for God, then – if Comet 67P has got complex molecules
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.