MY AMERICAN SCIENTIST
LOG IN! REGISTER!
SEARCH
 
RSS
Logo IMG
HOME > SCIENCE IN THE NEWS > Science Detail

SCIENCE IN THE NEWS DAILY

Tropical Lakes on Saturn Moon Could Expand Options for Life

from Nature News

Nestling among the dunes in the dry equatorial region of Saturn's moon Titan is what appears to be a hydrocarbon lake. The observation, by the Cassini spacecraft, suggests that oases of liquid methane -- which might be a crucible for life -- lie beneath the moon's surface. The work is published today in Nature.

Besides Earth, Titan is the only object in the Solar System to circulate liquids in a cycle of rain and evaporation, although on Titan the process is driven by methane rather than water.

This cycle is expected to form liquid bodies near the moon's poles, but not at its dune-covered equator, where Cassini measurements show that humidity levels are low and little rain falls to the surface. "The equatorial belt is like a desert on Earth, where evaporation trumps precipitation," says astrobiologist Jonathan Lunine of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

Any surface liquid there should evaporate and be transported to the cooler poles, where it should condense as rain. "Lakes at the poles are easy to explain, but lakes in the tropics are not," says Caitlin Griffith, a planetary scientist at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Indeed, Cassini has spotted hundreds of lakes and three seas in Titan's polar regions.

Read more...


 

Connect With Us:

    Pinterest Icon Google+ Icon Twitter Icon Facebook Icon Sm


Subscribe to Our Content!

Visit our RSS Feeds page to choose among 13 customized feeds, or create a free My AmSci account to request an email notice whenever a specified author, department or discipline appears online.


Subscribe to Free eNewsletters!

  • Sigma Xi SmartBrief:

    A free daily summary of the latest news in scientific research. Each story is summarized concisely and linked directly to the original source for further reading.

  • American Scientist Update

  • An early peek at each new issue, with descriptions of feature articles, columns, Science Observers and more. Every other issue contains links to everything in the latest issue's table of contents.

  • Scientists' Nightstand

  • News of book reviews published in American Scientist and around the web, as well as other noteworthy happenings in the world of science books.

    To sign up for automatic emails of the American Scientist Update and Scientists' Nightstand issues, create an online profile, then sign up in the My AmSci area.


EMAIL TO A FRIEND :

Of Possible Interest

Science in the News Weekly: NASA May Inherit Ex-Spy Telescope

Science in the News Weekly: Science at the Top of the News for May 29-June 1

Science in the News Weekly: Kepler Telescope Studies Superflares

Subscribe to American Scientist