NASA’s Cassini space probe is getting an exceptional look at the vast liquid lakes of Titan’s north pole, where dense winter clouds are finally retreating thanks to a change in seasons on Saturn’s largest moon.
A clearer view of Titan’s wet northern region could provide clues about the moon’s hydrologic cycle and the evolution of its seas. New images released by NASA this week even revealed the Titan equivalent of salt flats surrounding its northern lakes, some of which are as big as the Caspian Sea and Lake Superior combined.
Titan more closely resembles Earth than any other planet or moon in our solar system, with a dense atmosphere and stable liquids on its surface. But Titan’s clouds, lakes and rain are made up of hydrocarbons, such as ethane and methane, rather than water. [Amazing Photos: Titan, Saturn’s Largest Moon]
Titan, our future sources of hydrocarbons. I learned something today: serpentinization, a non-biological process of producing methane- Olivine + water + carbonic acid → serpentine + magnetite + methane.