NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft Finds Glass-Like Sea on Saturn’s Moon
By Parismita Goswami | March 22, 2014 10:09 PM EST
NASA's Cassini spacecraft through its new radar measurements have revealed images of the sea surface on Titan, the second largest moon of Saturn and called the surface smooth like a mirror.
Vast Ligeia Mare
This shows that the surface of Titan's second largest sea, Ligeia Mare has a glass-like surface with no waves, which the scientists believe may be owing to lack of winds. This is for the first time that the landscape composition and the weather pattern of the Saturn's moon have been observed by the Cassini spacecraft.
The radar measurements indicated that the Ligeia Mare's surface is still. The radar sensitivity of the Cassini spacecraft is one millimeter in this experiment, which means that if there are waves in the surface of the sea, they must be smaller than one millimetre.
The discovery also indicates that the landscape surrounding the sea is probably made of solid organic materials and not of frozen water.
"Titan is the best analogue that we have in the solar system to a body like the Earth because it is the only other body that we know that has a complex cycle of solid, liquid, and gas constituents," TOI quoted Howard Zebker, professor of geophysics and electrical engineering at Stanford University and the lead author of the study.
Thick clouds cover Titan that hinders the Cassini to obtain clear optical images, hence, scientists need to depend on radar, which can penetrate through the clouds.
"If the lake were really flat, it would act as a perfect mirror and you would have an extremely bright image of the sun. But, if you ruffle up the surface of the sea, the light gets scattered in lot of directions, and the reflection would be much dimmer. We did the same thing with radar on Titan.'' he said.
Scientists have pointed some possibilities for the sea calmness: The first being that may be no winds blew across that region when the Cassini flew by. Another possibility may be a thin layer of some unknown material suppressing the wave action. "For example, on Earth, if you put oil on top of a sea, you suppress a lot of small waves," Zebker added.
To contact the editor, e-mail:
Most Popular Slideshows
- Gennady Golovkin Next Fight Options: Canelo Alvarez, Miguel Cotto Or Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
- NFL MNF: Pittsburgh Steelers 30, Houston Texans 23 [PHOTOS]
- 2014 MLB World Series Game 1: San Francisco Giants 7, Kansas City Royals 1 [PHOTOS]
- 2014 MLB World Series - Game 2: Kansas City Royals 7, San Francisco Giants 2 [PHOTOS]
Join the Conversation
- Canadian Ebola Drug: Tekmira Firm Starts Limited Manufacturing of Vaccine, Available By December; Shares Up
- Final 2014 Solar Eclipse: When And How To Safely View It Plus Where To Watch Online Via Live Stream
- Britons Advised to Brace for Strong Hurricane Gonzalo Bearing Winds Up to 75mph; Affects Flights, Train Services
- MH370 Search Update: Australian Scientist Has Reportedly Found A Solution To The Mystery Of Missing Malaysia Airlines Jet
- 2014 Meteor Shower: Slooh To Have Live Broadcast Of Orionids Meteor Shower October 21 Peak, NASA Assures Ideal Observing Conditions
- Chilling: New ISIS Video Addresses Australia; Aussie Teen Delivers Message
- The Pirate Bay Blockade: Cost Of Blocking Websites Like TPB Is Ridiculously High
- Xiaomi Mi4 And MiPad Prices Likely Slashed, Thanks To Rivals Oppo, OnePlus And Meizu
- No Mercy: ISIS, Father Stones to Death Daughter for Alleged Adultery
- iOS 8 Jailbreak Release Date is Doomed as Team Evad3rs Opts Out, Pangu Hits Snag – Report
- Google Nexus 6 vs. iPhone 5S: 4 Important Things to Consider Before Switching to Android Lollipop