Feeds

Saturn's moon Titan had swamps, say astroboffins

Splashdown patterns suggest space rocks landed in something squishy

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Titan, the moon of Saturn often present at the top of candidate lists for life-bearing bodies in our near neighbourhood, may once have housed extensive swamps.

So say boffins from the Florida Institute of Technology and The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, who have popped out a paper titled ”Elevation distribution of Titan’s craters suggests extensive wetlands in which they suggest that the moon's craters are at unusually high elevations.

Titan is also famously smooth. It is peppered with craters like other celestial bodies, but those craters look rather more rounded and/or weathered than those on other planets and moons. Large swathes of the moon are also largely free of craters.

The paper suggests the moon's unusual crater patterns could be a result of having once housed extensive swamps that, when struck by incoming space rocks, would have produced differently-shaped craters than those on other planets and moons.

“Impacts into a shallow marine environment or a saturated layer of sediments more than several hundred meters thick would produce crater morphologies similar to terrestrial submarine impacts,” the paper suggests. “These are known to lack significant topographic expression”.

Another possibility is that the moon had swamps and enough liquid flowing about to move sediments into craters, rounding them out over time.

Whatever the reason for Titan's gentle craters, they would have been nasty: the boffins say they would have been filled with liquid hydrocarbons, possibly the polypropylene spotted there a couple of months back. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
NASA: Spacecraft crash site FOUND ON MOON RIM
'What fun!' exlaims NASA boffin who found the LADEE
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
OK Google, do I have CANCER?
Company talks up pill that would spot developing tumors
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?
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.