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March 20, 2011

Seasonal Rains Affecting Titan's Surface

The Cassini spacecraft has recently spotted "Spring" showers on the surface of Titan, one of Saturn's moons. As we know, it is far too cold where the Jovian planets reside for liquid water to exist on the surface. Instead, it is methane rain that wets Titan's surface. This methane fills lakes on the surface, creates clouds in the atmosphere, and falls as rain.

The spacecraft captured a storm appearing during the equivalent of early April on Earth. Scientists observed a region of the satellite's surface darken considerably, which could only be explained by the wetting of the methane rain. The weather is comparable to the weather over Earth's tropics. Though it seems that it is most similar to the weather over the tropical oceans. And, unlike Earth's tropics, this weather may only occur near the equinoxes and move much higher in the atmosphere as the planet approaches the solstices.

In any event, this finding is simply more empirical evidence that scientists can use to further understand how the weather on Titan and other Jovian worlds works.

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/whycassini/cassini20110317.html

Posted by hartadam at March 20, 2011 07:08 PM

Comments

I think that this is really interesting. This is a good example of the similarities that can occur on worlds due to atmospheres. Having rain on Titan brings up the interesting issue of whether this world is a good place to look for life. Liquid of some sort is necessary for life and we know Titan definitely does. I also agree that this is a good opportunity to study the weather of the Jovian planets and moons.

Posted by: emschnei at March 22, 2011 12:45 AM

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