Liquid `waves` detected on Saturn`s moon Titan

By Salome Phelamei | Last Updated: Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 18:49

Zee Media Bureau/Salome Phelamei

London: In a breakthrough, scientists claim to have discovered liquid waves on the surface of the Saturn`s moon Titan, something that was never seen before.

The discovery was made in the 380-km wide sea on Titan called Punga Mare.

Besides Earth, Titan is the only place in the Solar System to have liquid seas and lakes at the surface. But, these seas are filled with hydrocarbons like methane and ethane, and not water. These exist in their liquid state on Titan, where the surface temperature averages about -180C.
Planetary scientist Jason Barnes from the University of Idaho in Moscow, US, discussed details of his findings at the 45th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) in Texas this week.

In 2012 and 2013, the Cassini orbiter`s Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer spotted sunlight glinting off a sea near Titan`s north pole. While similar reflections have been detected earlier, scientists said the Punga Mare glint was “unusually high flux”.

Dr Barnes used a mathematical model to investigate the images taken by the Cassini probe, where he also found the moon`s surface to be as smooth as glass.

“We think we`ve found the first waves outside the Earth,” he said.
“What we`re seeing seems to be consistent with waves at just a few locations in Punga Mare (with a slope) of six degrees,” he said.

During the investigation, scientists have identified the waves to be about an inch (2 centimetres) in height.

Scientists also said that other possibilities, such as a wet mudflat, could not be ruled out.

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First Published: Thursday, March 20, 2014 - 18:49

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