News / Science & Technology

Titan's Surface More Rigid Than Thought, Says Study

Titan is seen from the Huygens probe as it descended to the surface in 2005.
Titan is seen from the Huygens probe as it descended to the surface in 2005.

Related Articles

Paper: Voyager 1 Leaves Solar System

Launched in 1977, Voyager 1’s primary mission was exploration of Jupiter and Saturn

Evidence Found of Water Deep Below Lunar Surface

The findings represent the first detection of water from lunar orbit

Massive Volcano Erupts on Jupiter's Moon, Io

The eruption was bigger than any ever recorded on Earth
VOA News
Elevated areas on Saturn’s moon, Titan, may be tips of large icebergs pushing up on the moon’s rigid shell, which new research indicates could be much thicker than previously thought. The icebergs are believed to be floating on an underlying ocean 50 to 200 kilometers below.

Titan’s ocean could possibly support alien life.

Planetary scientists arrived at the iceberg theory because of odd gravitational measurements obtained by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft.

"Normally, if you fly over a mountain, you expect to see an increase in gravity due to the extra mass of the mountain," said Francis Nimmo, a Cassini scientist who participated in a study published August 29 in the journal Nature. "On Titan, when you fly over a mountain, the gravity gets lower. That's a very odd observation."

One possible explanation, according to the study, is that Titan’s topographical bumps are offset by a deeper “root” that overwhelms the gravitational effect of the bump. The root could act like an iceberg extending below the ice shell into an ocean underneath. Cassini would detect less gravity wherever there is a big chunk of ice instead of water because ice is less dense than water.

"It's like a big beach ball under the ice sheet pushing up on it, and the only way to keep it submerged is if the ice sheet is strong," said Douglas Hemingway, the paper's lead author and a Cassini team associate. "If large roots under the ice shell are the explanation, this means that Titan's ice shell must have a very thick rigid layer."

Titan is of great interest to scientists because it is the only moon in the solar system known to have clouds and a mysterious, thick, planet-like atmosphere. The moon is also believed to have stable lakes of liquid methane and ethane.

Here's a short video of Huygens' descent onto the surface of Titan:

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid