Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, features seas, lakes, and rain, but instead of water, the liquid is methane. A team of researchers from the University of Arizona attempted to track down the source of the methane and made a surprising discovery in the process. A giant ice feature is wrapped around half of the surface of the satellite.
Previous studies have observed that the source of methane remains elusive, except the methane which comes from the evaporation of polar lakes. However, these lakes contain only one-third of the methane which can be found in the atmosphere, and select data suggests that it will be consumed soon.
Some researchers believe that there subsurface reservoirs which release methane into the atmosphere. Cryo-volcanoes are present in a specific region called Sotra.
Titan possesses a weird ice formation that surrounds a region of the largest moon of Saturn
The molecules of methane which can be found in the atmosphere are destroyed by the powerful sunlight. The result is a haze which lands and accumulates on the surface in the form of organic sediments which start to consume methane which can be found in the atmosphere. This organic blanket is nothing more than the material remains of past atmospheres.
The team began by studying the composition of the surface in a bid to discover cryo-volcanoes. Sotra appeared to possess the strongest features as half of the moon was surveyed. A breakthrough came when the team found a linear ice corridor which is wrapped around 40% of the surface.
The presence of this corridor has puzzled researchers since it is not related to any surface or subsurface features. As the moon is no longer volcanically active, it is likely that the corridor may be a remnant from the past. An advancing erosion process is also present, and it may reveal valuable information in the future, including ice and organic materials. The researchers are now planning to explore the poles of the moon, were a large number of methane seas can be found. The results were published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere