Titan may have a hidden ocean
March 20, 2008
Analyzing several years of radar data from the Cassini-Huygens mission, Ralph Lorenz of the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University and colleague "found that some of the geological features on the moon's surface had drifted from a fixed reference point, implying that the moon's rotation speed had temporarily increased," according to a statement from Science. The observations suggest that "winds in Titan's dense atmosphere may be rocking the moon back and forth around its axis," indicating that Titan's crust and core are separated by a liquid ocean.
The presence of water on Titan suggests that the conditions necessary for the evolution of life are common in the solar system, write Christophe Sotin and Gabriel Tobie in a follow up perspective also published in Science.
Swathed in its thick blanket of atmosphere, frigid Titan approaches the brilliant limb of Saturn. March 14, 2008. Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
R.D. Lorenz et al (2008). Titan's Rotation Reveals an Internal Ocean and Changing Zonal Winds. Science 21 March 2008
C. Sotin and G. Tobie (2008). Titan's Hidden Ocean. Science 21 March 2008
This article is based on the cited articles in Science as well as press materials from AAAS.