The dark patches in the image are believed to be lakes of liquid methane. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has captured an image showing lakes dotted over the surface of Titan.
The thick atmosphere of the Saturnian moon covers up the only known planetary surface in the solar system other than the Earth to be home to liquid lakes. Due to the extreme cold of Titan's surface however the liquid, far from being water, is actually comprised of methane and ethane.
The new image shows a cluster of large lakes near Titan's north pole region. It was taken using Cassini's on-board radar which is able to peer through the dense clouds and view what lies on the surface below.
Titan is one of the most intriguing and unique bodies in the solar system as it appears to have an Earth-like hydrological cycle that works with hydrocarbons instead of water. While inhospitable, this remote world exhibits many characteristics reminiscent of what we see here on Earth.
"It turns out that Titan's north pole is even more interesting than we thought, with a complex interplay of liquids in lakes and seas and deposits left from the evaporation of past lakes and seas," said scientist Jason Barnes.
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