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Space & Astronomy

Saturn's moon Titan has its own sea level

January 19, 2018 | Comment icon 5 comments



Titan and the Earth share many similarities. Image Credit: NASA
Just like the oceans here on Earth, Titan's hydrocarbon seas and lakes lie at an average elevation.
Titan is a place that, on the outset, appears to possess many things that seem uncannily familiar - oceans, rivers, snow-capped mountains and even an active weather system.

Take a closer look however and it soon becomes apparent that Titan couldn't be more alien. Its rivers and oceans aren't filled with liquid water but with an exotic form of liquid hydrocarbons, while its snow-capped peaks are actually dusted with a coating of methane, not water ice.

Now two new studies by scientists at Cornell University have revealed something else that this enigmatic world shares with our own planet - a constant sea level.
The research, which involved creating a topographic map of Titan, showed that, like the Earth, the Saturnian moon's oceans and lakes follow a constant elevation relative to its gravitational pull.

"The new study suggests that elevation is important because Titan's liquid bodies appear to be connected under the surface in something akin to an aquifer system," NASA wrote.

"Hydrocarbons appear to be flowing underneath Titan's surface similar to the way water flows through underground porous rock or gravel on Earth, so that nearby lakes communicate with each other and share a common liquid level."

Source: EarthSky.org | Comments (5)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by pallidin 4 years ago
Wonder if there might be some microbial life in those waters... perhaps exercising for the Titan swim Olympics..
Comment icon #2 Posted by _KB_ 4 years ago
It's just logic though, stating what we all already new if you would, anything that has gravity as well as anything akin to a hydrosphere is bound to have an average sea level, even a child could figure this out based on the principle of induction
Comment icon #3 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 4 years ago
Your argument is not logical at all. If the seas are not interconnected (basically well-connected lakes and inland seas) then each will fill to it's own level. Only if there is, like on Earth, a global ocean will there be a global sea level. Since, before Cassini arrived at Saturn, it wasn't even certain there were liquid oceans on Titan. Only with the radar mapping carried out by Cassini could it be determined that there was a global sea level and that these seas are connected.
Comment icon #4 Posted by _KB_ 4 years ago
I said anything akin to a hydrosphere, so it's plenty logical, I didn't say any liquid did I? The research itself wasn't bad, the conclusion was bad, the conclusion should have been "Titan has an interconnected water system", sometimes it's not about what you're selling but what you decide to call your product
Comment icon #5 Posted by Peter B 4 years ago
The possibility is tantalising... I understand that the main problem is that the temperature on Titan is so low that it's likely life would progress at a much slower pace than it does here on Earth.


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