NASA theorizes how lake depressions on Titan were formed

Shane McGlaun - Jun 22, 2015, 7:30am CDT
NASA theorizes how lake depressions on Titan were formed

Titan is one of Saturn’s moons and one of the most interesting things about the moon is that it has lots of seas and lakes that are filled with liquid hydrocarbons. One thing that puzzles NASA scientists about the lakes of hydrocarbons on the surface of the moon is what process exactly creates the depression that the hydrocarbon lakes fill. Some of the depressions aren’t filled with liquids.

A new study has been performed with the cooperation of NASA and the ESA Cassini mission that suggests how the depressions might be formed. The study has reveals that the surface of Titan might dissolve in a process that is similar to the creation of sinkholes here on Earth. Titan is the only other body in our solar system known to have surface lakes and seas.

Granted the surface lakes and seas here on Earth are filled with fresh and salt water while the lakes and seas on Titan are home to hydrocarbons in liquid form. The surface of Titan is about -292 degrees Fahrenheit allowing the depressions to fill with liquid methane and ethane. Cassini has identified two different forms of methane and ethane filled depressions that create distinctive features near the poles of Titan.

Scientists report that there are vast seas that are several hundred miles across and up to several hundred feet deep that are fed by branching river-like channels. In flat areas, Cassini discovered shallow lakes with rounded edges and steep walls. Those lakes are thought to fill up from rainfall and liquid coming from underground. Scientists estimate that it would take about 50 million years to create a 300-foot depression near the rainy polar regions of the moon.

SOURCE: JPL


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