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NASA: liquid confirmed on Saturn's moon Titan


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#1    Owlscrying

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 05:33 PM

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This true-color image taken in visible wavelengths by the Cassini spacecraft on June 10, 2004 and released by NASA on Friday, July 2, 2004, shows Titan, a moon of Saturn, enveloped in a photochemical smog

Pasadena, Calif. (AP) - At least one of many large, lake-like features on Saturn's moon Titan studied by the international Cassini spacecraft contains liquid hydrocarbons, making it the only body in the solar system besides Earth known to have liquid on its surface, NASA said Wednesday.

Scientists positively identified the presence of ethane, according to a statement from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, which manages the Cassini mission exploring Saturn, its rings and moons.

Liquid ethane is a component of crude oil.

Cassini has made more than 40 close flybys of Titan, a giant planet-sized satellite of the ringed world.

Scientists had theorized that Titan might have oceans of methane, ethane and other hydrocarbons, but Cassini found hundreds of dark, lake-like features instead, and it wasn't known at first whether they were liquid or dark, solid material, JPL's statement said.

"This is the first observation that really pins down that Titan has a surface lake filled with liquid," Bob Brown, team leader of Cassini's visual and mapping instrument, said in the statement.

The instrument was used during a December flyby to observe a feature dubbed Ontario Lacus, in the south polar region, that is about 7,800 square miles, slightly larger than North America's Lake Ontario.

Cassini reached Saturn in mid-2004 and at the end of that year launched a probe named Huygens that parachuted to the surface of Titan the following January.

The mission is a project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency.
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#2    Aztec Warrior

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 05:35 PM

Very interesting how liquid hydrocarbons.........petroleum....can be found where there were no dinosaurs or other organic material.

I wonder if the Democrats will impose a ban on drilling. rolleyes.gif

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#3    Pax Unum

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 06:16 PM

Aztec Warrior on Jul 31 2008, 12:35 PM, said:

Very interesting how liquid hydrocarbons.........petroleum....can be found where there were no dinosaurs or other organic material.

I wonder if the Democrats will impose a ban on drilling. rolleyes.gif


Quote

Ethane occurs as a trace gas in the Earth's atmosphere, having a concentration at sea level of around 0.5 ppbv[1] at present, though its pre-industrial concentration is likely to have been substantially less as a large proportion of the ethane in today's atmosphere probably originated as unburned fossil fuels. Although ethane is a greenhouse gas, it is much less abundant than methane and also less efficient relative to mass. It has also been detected as a trace component in the atmospheres of all four giant planets, and in the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan.

Atmospheric ethane results from the Sun's photochemical action on methane gas, also present in these atmospheres: ultraviolet photons of shorter wavelengths than 160 nm can photo-dissociate the methane molecule into a methyl radical and a hydrogen atom. When two methyl radicals recombine, the result is ethane:

CH4 → CH3 + H
CH3 + CH3 → C2H6
In the case of Titan, it was once widely hypothesized that ethane produced in this fashion rained back onto the moon's surface, and over time had accumulated into hydrocarbon seas or oceans covering much of the moon's surface. Infrared telescopic observations cast significant doubt on this hypothesis, and the Huygens probe, which landed on Titan in 2005, failed to observe any surface liquids, although it did photograph features that could be presently dry drainage channels. In December 2007 the Cassini probe found at least one lake at Titan's south pole, now called Ontario Lacus because of the lake's similar area to Lake Ontario on Earth (approximately 20,000 km). Further analysis of infrared spectroscopic data presented in July 2008[2] provided stronger evidence for the presence of liquid ethane in Ontario Lacus.

In 1996, ethane was detected in Comet Hyakutake, and it has since been detected in some other comets. The existence of ethane in these distant solar system bodies may implicate ethane as a primordial component of the solar nebula from which the sun and planets are believed to have formed.


LINK-> Ethane/Atmospheric and extraterrestrial ethane

or the Democrats might impose a TAX...  grin2.gif





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