Giant ocean found on Saturn’s moonJune 30th, 2012 - 8:37 am ICT by IANS
Moscow, June 30 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Around 100 km beneath the rocky crust on Saturn’s largest moon Titan is an ocean of water spanning the entirety of the celestial body, scientists said.
The ocean was hypothesised in 2011, based on Titan’s rotation and orbital movement.
The theory was confirmed by a study based on data from the Cassini-Huygens probe, published in Science magazine.
The ocean theory implied that Titan is becoming slightly deformed by Saturn’s gravity when it nears the planet, something that would not have happened if Titan were completely solid.
A team headed by Italian researcher Luciano Iess studied the influence of Titan’s gravity on the probe during numerous fly-bys and discovered that the moon’s gravity slightly varied, in line with the ocean theory.
The ocean is probably saturated with ammonia or its sulfate and cold, unlike on Jupiter’s moon Europa, whose underground waters are heated by geysers, the report said.
This, along with the lack of minerals, makes Titan’s currently nameless ocean an unlikely place to produce life, the study said.
However, other studies indicate that some bacteria are capable of surviving in extreme environments, and even propose the possibility of life based on different biochemistry than on Earth, including arsenic.
Titan, one of Saturn’s 13 major moons, was discovered in 1655 by Christiaan Huygens, but its study is complicated by its dense atmosphere.
The Hyugens unmanned probe, delivered by the Cassini mission dispatched in 1997 to study Saturn, successfully landed on Titan in 2005, becoming the most distant landing of manmade spacecraft in history. It transmitted data for about 90 minutes after touchdown.
- Saturn's largest moon Titan has surprisingly slushy insides - Mar 12, 2010
- Titan may harbor huge ocean beneath its frozen surface - Apr 26, 2011
- Titan shaped by weather, not ice volcanoes - Apr 10, 2011
- Life on Saturn's moon would have been strange, smelly and explosive - Apr 13, 2010
- Titan's hydrocarbon lakes could be brimming with hearty soup for life - Nov 23, 2009
- Scientists unravel chemistry of Titan's hazy atmosphere - Sep 16, 2009
- NASA spacecraft to photograph Saturn's moons - Apr 03, 2010
- Saturn's rings formed by destruction of Titan-sized moon - Oct 06, 2010
- How Saturn's rings and inner moons were formed - Dec 13, 2010
- Saturn moon Iapetus coated with foreign dust: Study - Dec 11, 2009
- NASA Observes Primitive Life On Second Largest Planet Of The Solar System - Jun 07, 2010
- Moon builds massive snowballs in Saturn's ring - Jul 21, 2010
- Russia's Mars spacecraft falls in Pacific Ocean - Jan 16, 2012
- Programme glitch led to Russian Mars probe failure: Report - Jan 31, 2012
- Can we get oil from space? - Oct 31, 2008
Tags: ammonia, cassini mission, celestial body, christiaan huygens, dense atmosphere, extreme environments, fly bys, geysers, giant ocean, iess, luciano, moon europa, moon titan, moons, ria novosti, rocky crust, science magazine, spacecraft, underground waters, unmanned probe