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Liquid lakes on Titan

30 Jul 2008, 19:35 UTC
Liquid lakes on Titan
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Scientists have confirmed that liquid lakes exist on Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, using the spectrometer on board the Cassini spacecraft. It’s not liquid water, though. It’s liquid ethane, a hydrocarbon that probably rains down from the cold skies of Titan. While radar images of the surface of Titan strongly suggested that there were liquid lakes, this is the first time direct observational evidence was gathered.

With all the hydrocarbons on Titan, along with all the liquid ethane sloshing around like water, it would be truly extraordinary if there were carbon-based life forms which use liquid ethane as an analogue of liquid water used in Earth-based life forms. It’s unlikely, but even if there are no life forms, Titan could turn out to be a great source of organic material for manned space exploration given its low gravity and rich deposits of hydrocarbons. And it would be really interesting to try bioengineering such life forms that could thrive on Titan.

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