Map of Saturn’s largest moon reveals clues about landscape
JPL-Caltech/NASA, ASI, USGS
SAN FRANCISCO — For a frigid hunk of rock and ice more than a billion kilometers away, Titan acts a lot like Earth. Lakes and seas that adorn Saturn’s largest moon may have formed in ways similar to those that created Earth’s bodies of water, according to an analysis of the newest map of Titan’s surface.
Vast, elongated seas and smaller, roundish lakes filled with oily liquid speckle the moon’s north pole. They could be the handiwork of tectonics and sinkholes, reported geophysicist Randolph Kirk of the U.S. Geological Survey in Flagstaff, Ariz., at the American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting on December 12.
“Earth has seas, and rivers, and rain, and tectonics, and volcanism and glaciers,” Kirk said. “Titan’s got the full list from Earth, except for life.”
Scientists got their first up-close look of the big moon in 2004, when Cassini, a spacecraft orbiting Saturn, snapped radar images of Titan