A new research brought encouraging news about the faith and outcomes of a potential future landing on Titan, the largest moon of Saturn. The success of such an attempt has been tied and now cleared by the properties of the moon’s methane lakes.
Scientists used a radar technique more commonly utilized here on Earth, on snow, to study the surface of these methane pools. This study revealed that researchers could stop worrying about strong winds, as the face of these lakes is almost mirror smooth.
Titan’s Methane Lakes, No Longer a Concern
This new research is based on statistical reconnaissance. A special radar technique, this is used here on Earth for measuring the roughness of the ice in Antarctica and the Arctic. It was also utilized in looking for prospective landing sites for the NASA InSight Mars mission.
Now, the research team used statistical reconnaissance to analyze the data collected from Titan’s methane lakes by the Cassini probe. Namely, they took a closer look at the Punga, Kraken, and Ligeia seas situated in the northern hemisphere of Titan.
The largest moon of Saturn is the only other known space body in the Solar System to collect and present liquid surface waters. Besides our own planet, of course. However, in contrast to Earth, the super cold Titan’s lakes are composed out of the ethane and methane hydrocarbons.
The moon also hints at having a possible weather system, that gives rise to hydrocarbon rains. Some even speculate that its methane lakes might be holding some sort of life forms.
“There’s a lot of interest in one day sending probes to the lakes, and when that’s done, you want to have a safe landing, and you don’t want a lot of wind,” stated Cyril Grima.
He is the lead researcher of the new study and part of the University of Texas’s Institute for Geophysics.
According to the study, the waves on Titan’s methane pools “aren’t very high”. This also led to the conclusion that the moon’s winds “are likely low”.
At least for the moment, NASA hasn’t got any planned missions to Titan. Still, the results of the new study, available in the Earth and Planetary Science Letters, present an encouraging look towards a future landing on this moon.
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