Titan shaped by weather, not ice volcanoes

Last Updated: Sunday, April 10, 2011 - 11:44

Washington: NASA scientists, who analysed the data collected by the Cassini spacecraft, have suggested that the Saturn’s smog-shrouded moon, Titan, may be much less geologically active than some scientists have thought.

In the paper scientists concluded that Titan’s interior may be cool and dormant and incapable of causing active ice volcanoes.

“It would be fantastic to find strong evidence that clearly shows Titan has an internal heat source that causes ice volcanoes and lava flows to form,” said Jeff Moore, lead author of the paper and a planetary scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field,
Calif.

“But we find that the evidence presented to date is unconvincing, and recent studies of Titan’s interior conducted by geophysicists and gravity experts also weaken the possibility of volcanoes there,” Field added.

“But we find that the evidence presented to date is unconvincing, and recent studies of Titan’s interior conducted by geophysicists and gravity experts also weaken the possibility of volcanoes there,” Field added.

In the new paper, the authors concluded that the only features on Titan’s surface that have been unambiguously identified were created by external forces -- such as objects hitting the surface and creating craters; wind and rain pummeling its surface; and the formation of rivers and lakes.

“Titan is a fascinating world,” said Robert Pappalardo, a research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and former project scientist for NASA’s Cassini mission.

“Its uniqueness comes from its atmosphere and organic lakes, but in this study, we find no strong evidence for icy volcanism on Titan,” Pappalardo added.

The paper has been published in the April 2011 edition of the journal Icarus.

ANI



First Published: Sunday, April 10, 2011 - 11:44

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