Number 787 #2, August 2, 2006 by Phil Schewe, Ben Stein, and Davide Castelvecchi
Darksome Titanian Lakes
Previous pictures taken by the Huygens
space probe and new pictures recorded by the Cassini craft suggest
the presence of high latitude lakes on Titan, Saturn's large moon.
Titan possesses a substance, methane, which, like water on earth,
can exist can exist in solid, liquid, or gaseous forms. However,
because Titan is so cold, about -179 degrees Celsius at the surface, much of this
methane is stored in the atmosphere, which is ten times denser than
earth's. Nevertheless, at least partially-wet lakes should exist,
and new radar pictures snapped by Cassini support this idea. Dozens
of dark hydrocarbon lakes were spotted, some as long as 62 miles.
In future years, as the 30-year seasonal rotation brings the
northern hemisphere on Titan into summer, lake wetting should become
even more apparent.