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December 27, 2013

Saturn's moon Titan is covered with liquid methane lakes

Saturn's largest moon Titan is an eerie world about the size of Mercury. It is the only moon in the solar system with a thick, hazy atmosphere and the only place aside from Earth that has large bodies of liquid on its surface. But there's also one very big difference: on frigid Titan, the lakes and seas are filled with liquid such as Methane.

Radar observations were able to peer all the way to the lake's bottom, which suggests that the liquid is unexpectedly clear and pure. The results also show that it is mostly filled with methane, the main component in natural gas.

"Measurements indicate that the lake is 160 metres deep, and it alone contains by volume about 40 times more hydrocarbon liquid than Earth's global oil reservoir," says Hayes. "Together, all of Titan's visible lakes and seas contain about 300 times the volume of Earth's proven oil reserves."

Could anything be alive inside these cold but carbon-rich seas?


False colour, real smoothness (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI/Cornell)





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