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MIT

Rivers on three worlds tell different tales

18 May 2017, 18:00 UTC
Rivers on three worlds tell different tales Benjamin Black/NASA/Visible Earth/JPL/Cassini RADAR team. Adapted from images from NASA Viking, NASA/Visible Earth, and NASA/JPL/Cassini RADAR team

The environment on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, may seem surprisingly familiar: Clouds condense and rain down on the surface, feeding rivers that flow into oceans and lakes. Outside of Earth, Titan is the only other planetary body in the solar system with actively flowing rivers, though they’re fed by liquid methane instead of water. Long ago, Mars also hosted rivers, which scoured valleys across its now-arid surface. Now MIT scientists have found that despite these similarities, the origins of topography, or surface elevations, on Mars and Titan are very different from that on Earth.

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