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Did underground explosions create Titan’s lakes?

11 Sep 2019, 11:06 UTC
Did underground explosions create Titan’s lakes?
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Artist’s concept of a lake at the north pole of Saturn’s large moon Titan. This image illustrates the raised rims and rampart-like features seen by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft around some Titan lakes. Scientists think these features might indicate underground explosions, which carved out the lake beds long ago. Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech.
During its 13 years of scrutinizing Saturn and its moons, the Cassini spacecraft executed dozens of close flybys of the system’s largest moon, Titan. It found that Titan has a cycle much like our water cycle, with a kind of “rain,” although Titan’s rain consists of liquid methane and other organic compounds, not water. Cassini also revealed that Titan’s methane rain has filled basins on its surface, so that this frigid moon is the only world in our solar system, besides Earth, known to have stable surface lakes and seas (albeit not made of water). This week, using radar data from Cassini, scientists published a new scenario to explain why some methane-filled lakes on Titan are surrounded by steep rims that reach hundreds of feet high. The models suggests that explosions of warming nitrogen created the lake basins in the moon’s crust.
The new work was published September 9, ...

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