News and commentary about the Great Frontiers

ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) --- This view of Earth's horizon as the sunsets over the Pacific Ocean was taken by an Expedition 7 crewmember onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Anvil tops of thunderclouds are also visible. Credit: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

Image Credit: ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) – Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

The Shores of Titan



A new composite image from Titan appears to show a shoreline where river channels or canyons empty into a black sea. Huygens took the image as it was drifting down toward the surface. Scientists have not yet been able to confirm whether or not the black sea-like region and apparent river channels are full of liquid.

Scientists also pieced together a full 360-degree panorama around Huygens as it drifted out over the black sea-like body. On the left are the channels and shoreline and just right of center is the spot where Huygens landed.

Unlike Mars, where old river beds are billions of years old and show little or no evidence of recent fluvial activity, evidence from the Titan landing site strongly suggest recent fluvial activity. Should scientists confirm that liquid currently exists on its surface, Titan would become only the second known body after the Earth to have such conditions. On Titan, however, the liquid would likely be methane or ethane, rather than water. Because of the extremely cold conditions on Titan, H20 there is solid and the primary mineral in the moon’s rocks.

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