Underground ocean may exist on Saturn moon: NASA

March 21st, 2008 - 7:11 am ICT by admin  

Washington, March 21 (DPA) New evidence has surfaced of an underground ocean on Saturn’s moon Titan, based on data sent back to Earth by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, the US space agency said. “Titan has one of the most varied, active and Earth-like surfaces in the solar system,” Ralph Lorenz, Cassini radar scientist at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, said in a statement Thursday.

Lorenz is the lead author of a paper on the findings to be published Friday in the journal Science. The Cassini team compiled the data from radar measurements collected over 19 passes of the Saturn moon between October 2005 and May 2007. Cassini will be making its next fly-by Tuesday.

NASA said an underground ocean was likely because Cassini recorded significant shifts in landmarks such as lakes, canyons, and mountains on the surface. In some cases the landmarks were recorded as far as 30 km from their expected location, which could only be explained if there was something breaking up the moon’s surface and core.

“We believe that about 100 km beneath the ice and organic-rich surface is an internal ocean of liquid water mixed with ammonia,” said Bryan Styles of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which manages the Cassini mission.

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