New Delhi: Once again, Cassini has beamed back a staggering discovery during its probe of Saturn and its moons.
NASA has released an image which shows deep, steep-sided canyons on Saturn's moon Titan that are flooded with liquid hydrocarbons, spotted by Cassini.
This is big news considering it is the first direct evidence of the existence of liquid-filled channels on Titan, as well as the first observation of canyons hundreds of meters deep.
As per NASA, Cassini observations reveal that the channels – in particular, a network of them named Vid Flumina – are narrow canyons, generally less than half a mile (a bit less than a kilometer) wide, with slopes steeper than 40 degrees. The canyons also are quite deep – those measured are 790 to 1,870 feet (240 to 570 meters) from top to bottom.
The US space agency further explained that, the branching channels appear dark in radar images, much like Titan's methane-rich seas. This suggested to scientists that the channels might also be filled with liquid, but a direct detection had not been made until now. Previously it wasn't clear if the dark material was liquid or merely saturated sediment – which at Titan's frigid temperatures would be made of ice, not rock.