News / Science & Technology

NASA: Titan's Ocean Likely 'as Salty as Dead Sea'

Researchers found that Titan's ice shell, which overlies a very salty ocean, varies in thickness around the moon, suggesting the crust is in the process of becoming rigid.
Researchers found that Titan's ice shell, which overlies a very salty ocean, varies in thickness around the moon, suggesting the crust is in the process of becoming rigid.

Related Articles

Ancient Subsurface Ocean Could Have Flowed on Pluto's Moon Charon

Notion of liquid water on body 29 times further away from the Sun than Earth seems far fetched given the surface temperature on Charon is minus 229 Celsius

NASA to Test 'Flying Saucer' for Future Mars Missions

Inspiration for Low Density Supersonic Decelerator came, oddly enough, from a sea creature, the Hawaiian pufferfish

'Godzilla of Earths' Exoplanet Discovered

Kepler-10c weighs 17 times as much as Earth

New research casts doubt on the possibility of finding life as we know it on Saturn’s moon, Titan. The giant ocean believed to exist below the moon’s surface has long been thought a place where life could exist.

But gravity and topography data collected during the Cassini spacecraft's repeated flybys of Titan data led to an “improved understanding of the structure of the moon’s outer ice shell” and the ocean below.

In a paper published earlier this month, NASA researchers say they have found evidence that the ocean could be “as salty as Earth’s Dead Sea.”

Researchers point out that by salty, they don’t just mean sodium chloride.

Titan's extremely salty brine appears to be watery mix of sulfur, sodium and potassium, said the paper's lead author, Giuseppe Mitri of the University of Nantes in France in an email.

"This is an extremely salty ocean by Earth standards," said Mitri in a statement. "Knowing this may change the way we view this ocean as a possible abode for present-day life, but conditions might have been very different there in the past."

He added that the discovery indicates “there was direct interaction between Titan’s deep interior and the subsurface liquid water during its past history with interesting implications for its habitability.”

This false-color composite was created with images taken during the Cassini spacecraft's closest flyby of Titan, April 2005. (file photo)This false-color composite was created with images taken during the Cassini spacecraft's closest flyby of Titan, April 2005. (file photo)
x
This false-color composite was created with images taken during the Cassini spacecraft's closest flyby of Titan, April 2005. (file photo)
This false-color composite was created with images taken during the Cassini spacecraft's closest flyby of Titan, April 2005. (file photo)

Using data from the Cassini spacecraft, researchers studied the variations in Titan’s gravitational field, researchers were able to determine that the subsurface ocean had to be highly dense with a salt content “roughly equal to the saltiest bodies of water on Earth.”

Topography data also revealed that the moon’s shell is in the process of freezing solid. Variations in the thickness of the shell also point to the subsurface ocean slowly freezing.

"Titan continues to prove itself as an endlessly fascinating world, and with our long-lived Cassini spacecraft, we're unlocking new mysteries as fast as we solve old ones," said Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California,  in a statement. She was not involved in the study.

The findings are published in this week's edition of the journal Icarus.
 

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Tara from: Miami
July 09, 2014 12:55 AM
Just a question? I'm not a scientist...I do believe we have found extremophiles here on earth...why discount life there when we are still finding life here scientist said just days ago in essence couldn't exist here?
Just asking...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More