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Posts Tagged ‘Saturn’

Yachting, Titan-style

Yachting, Titan-style

Okay, so trying to catch some rays from a distant, faint sun on the shore of a hydrocarbon sea on a freezing moon doesn’t sound like all that much fun (at least, not to an Earthman…), but the announcement that scientists may have discovered waves on the seas and lakes of Saturn’s moon Titan does spur the imagination:

Now, after years of searching, Nature reports that NASA’s Cassini scientists think they may finally have spotted waves cresting on the seas of Titan. If confirmed, this would be the first discovery of ocean waves beyond Earth.

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft spied several unusual glints of sunlight off the surface of Punga Mare in the 2012 and 2013 flybys. Those reflections may come from tiny ripples, no more than 2 centimeters high, that are disturbing the otherwise flat ocean, says Jason Barnes, a planetary scientist at the University of Idaho in Moscow.

(…)

Researchers expect more waves to appear in the next few years, because winds are anticipated to pick up as Titan’s northern hemisphere — where most of its seas are located — emerges from winter and approaches spring.

There’s been a proposal for a seaborne “lander” to go to Titan for an initial exploration of its “waters,” but the project was beaten out by the Mars Lander. Seems kind of silly we couldn’t do both. Besides, imagine the reaction to the last images from the “Mare Explorer,” as a Titanian whale swallows it whole.

Yes!

Let’s do this, NASA.

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Beautiful photos of Cassini’s fly-by of Saturn’s moon, Enceladus. See the giant water geysers!

And to think, had we kept up with Project Orion, we could have been there to see it in person nearly 40 years ago.

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