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Titan May Have an Ocean

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the too-cold-to-swim-here-too dept.

Space 109

olsmeister writes "Titan has been a particular focus of attention because of its dense, complex atmosphere, its weather and its lakes and oceans. Now it looks as if Titan is even stranger still. The evidence comes from careful observations of Titan's orbit and rotation. This indicates that Titan has an orbit similar to our Moon's; it always presents the same face toward Saturn and its axis of rotation tilts by about 0.3 degrees. This data allows astronomers to work out Titan's moment of inertia and points to something interesting. The numbers indicate that Titan's moment of inertia can only be explained if it is a solid body that is denser near the surface than it is at its center."

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Grammar Check (-1, Troll)

Yeknomaguh (1681980) | more than 3 years ago | (#35855438)

Does anybody proofread these summaries? This is one of the worst I've seen lately.

Re:Grammar Check (2, Informative)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 3 years ago | (#35855544)

It's less of a summary and more of a copy/paste straight from the article. The weird comma after the first word comes from the fact that they didn't copy/paste the whole sentence, probably mistaking the word Titan for the start of the sentence because it has a capital letter and just happened to break into a new-line of the article. The full sentence is:

Saturn's largest moon, Titan, has been a particular focus of attention because of its dense, complex atmosphere, its weather and its lakes and oceans.

Re:Grammar Check (0, Offtopic)

Yeknomaguh (1681980) | more than 3 years ago | (#35855550)

!troll. Who am I trolling? Slashdot's editors? All I'm saying is that this could've used a couple more goings over for grammar.

Re:Grammar Check (0, Offtopic)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35855666)

Grammar is there merely to FACILITATE communication, not to be its master. Did communication occur? Did you understand the meaning through context? Kindly shut your pie-hole.

Re:Grammar Check (-1, Offtopic)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35855846)

Nope didn't understand the meaning because the title and summary said two different things.

And white knighting isn't ever going to lower your UID, so stop standing up for the editors.

Re:Grammar Check (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35855976)

This is why I don't have an account on this neckbeard site and think you all are a bunch of out of touch nerds and get trolled regularly. The editors are dumb as shit and most of the posters are pedantic little bitches. It's sad when I visit this site once every week or so and see so many of you defining your self-worth off of moderation points.

I have said things to some of you that has seriously butthurt you. I mean, you get genuinely offended. It's hilarious. If you had a life, you wouldn't give a shit.

Yea, this was important enough to have to wait an additional ten minutes to troll another one of you fags.

alrightythen (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35855446)

Earth have ocean too!

Re:alrightythen (1)

telekon (185072) | more than 3 years ago | (#35856120)

The first thing that came to mind when I read that headline was to do this [cheezburger.com]

8) (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35855468)

You don't have to be a quantum mechanic,
To know that this ocean is a little Methanic,
If atmospheric densities remain the same,
Then other hydrocarbons are not to blame,
For the process being just a little too Titanic.

Re:8) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35855618)

Please do this with every slashdot story from now on, forever. 3

Re:8) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35855704)

Its actually a comment from the article. Not sure if its the same person.

Re:8) (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 3 years ago | (#35855716)

I was thinking of:
There was a young fella from Brighton,
Who exclaimed, your mums a tight'en,
I said, pom my soul,
Your in the wrong hole,
There's an ocean of space in the right'en

Re:8) (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35855956)

You don't have to be a quantum mechanic,
To know that this ocean is a little Methanic,
If atmospheric densities remain the same,
Then other hydrocarbons are not to blame,
For the process being just a little too Titanic.

There once was a chap called Phong
Who was rapping a lyrical song
When he started to blow
His words didn't flow,
"It rhymes, so what could be wrong?"

A limerick doesn't just rhyme.
One has to consider the time.
It's a concept called meter,
That causes the reader,
To laugh at your lyrical crime.

Re:8) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35857464)

Too few people will understand or appreciate you. Mod parent up.

Re:8) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35857968)

Best. Comment. Ever.

Re:8) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35858916)

"Funny" /= funny

Re:8) (1)

cycleflight (1811074) | more than 3 years ago | (#35859106)

Burma shave?

Calculated using high precision spirographs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35855470)

operated by an army of monkeys, governed by trial and error!
JK, props to the people who can tell it's got a gooey center just by the way it wobbles.

Spin an Egg (2)

bobs666 (146801) | more than 3 years ago | (#35855788)

And its easy to tell of its hard boiled or raw. It might be easer to see if you have one of each. Grats to the Scientists that can do this with a moon.

Those SF guys were right! (1)

Archtech (159117) | more than 3 years ago | (#35855484)

"Titan's moment of inertia can only be explained if it is a solid body that is denser near the surface than it is at its centre".

Maybe it's partially hollow. Pellucidar, anyone? Possibly inhabited by Heinlein's Puppet Masters...

Re:Those SF guys were right! (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#35856282)

Forgotten prototype of the death star which has over the milenia, been hit is enough astroids to get a dirt surface.

Re:Those SF guys were right! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35862210)

Possibly inhabited by Heinlein's Puppet Masters...

Lets hope they follow the plot by colonising Venus first.

Re:Those SF guys were right! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35863880)

So long as they stay out of Uranus.

Interesting Stuff (4, Insightful)

PmanAce (1679902) | more than 3 years ago | (#35855490)

Stuff like this brings out the inner child in me, wanting to explore and see these discoveries with my own eyes. Sometimes I wish I was born 500+ years from now so I could actually be able to explore these strange worlds with my own eyes. Not saying humans would have these places colonized but at least have some sort of outpost nearby able to fully explore these places robotically or with human presence.

ObFuturama (2)

bunratty (545641) | more than 3 years ago | (#35855662)

You want to go to Titan? All it has is that run down amusement park.

Re:ObFuturama (1)

Unkyjar (1148699) | more than 3 years ago | (#35859820)

I'll make my own moon, with blackjack...and hookers!

Re:ObFuturama (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35862262)

Come to think of it, forget about the blackjack.

Re:ObFuturama (1)

Goboxer (1821502) | more than 3 years ago | (#35863344)

Eh, screw the whole thing.

Re:ObFuturama (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35864502)

Ah, forget the whole thing!

Re:Interesting Stuff (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35855714)

Cold enough to freeze methane is probably a little chilly for you. Be sure to bring a parka!

Re:Interesting Stuff (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35855952)

Sometimes I wish I was born 500+ years from now so I could actually be able to explore these strange worlds with my own eyes.

Sadly, you'd be just like you are now. Ignoring (or undervaluing) the fact that you've got access to explore strange words that people 500 years ago could only dream about.

Re:Interesting Stuff (2)

pscottdv (676889) | more than 3 years ago | (#35856046)

Sadly, you'd be just like you are now. Ignoring (or undervaluing) the fact that you've got access to explore strange words that people 500 years ago could only dream about.

Like "blogging", "twitter" and "app"

Re:Interesting Stuff (2)

chargersfan420 (1487195) | more than 3 years ago | (#35857454)

Like "blogging", "twitter" and "app"

If people dreamed of these things 500 years ago, I weep for humanity.

Re:Interesting Stuff (2)

Kentari (1265084) | more than 3 years ago | (#35859306)

Or you could go for the more interesting stuff... The microscope, telescope, submarine and airplane were invented in the last 500 years and they all allow you to see worlds noone could imagine 500 years ago. Travelling beyond your own county and the local market was pretty rare as well (unless you were either important or unlucky).

Re:Interesting Stuff (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35858294)

Sometimes I wish I was born 500+ years from now so I could actually be able to explore these strange worlds with my own eyes.

Sadly, you'd be just like you are now. Ignoring (or undervaluing) the fact that you've got access to explore strange words that people 500 years ago could only dream about.

If those people 500 years ago weren't dreaming about what's normal for us now I doubt he'd be able to dream about something so amazing now. It's the fact that we keep looking forward that makes all this "impossible" stuff happen.

Oh, yeah? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35860564)

And it's people who think like that (dreaming of visiting new worlds) are the ones who help bring computers, planes, trains, and automobiles to smug individuals such as yourself. You know, so that you can post drivel like this and somehow get modded 'insightful'.

I'm pretty sure someone 500 years ago said something as snarky and counterproductive as what you just posted, genius.

(another starry-eyed individual)

Re:Interesting Stuff (4, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35856534)

Honestly, Titan would be as "done" as the Moon is "done" today. Been there, done that, pretty boring piece of rock in the sky really that nobody's bothered to visit for almost 40 years. If we go there, yeah there's methane in fluid form but it's sterile like an operating room it will be just another one of those rocks.

If you really wanted to be the inner geek, you should go back to Leonardo da Vinci's time, when you could be a multi-discipline genius and most of his inventions really were hands on. Between electron microscopes, giant telescopes, huge particle colliders, robots and probes it's mostly reading stuff out of devices. And when it comes to space on the one side the Mars landers aren't being on Mars, on the other it'll take most of the "news" out of going to Mars. Now here's images just like the landers - except with people in them.

Personally I think one of the most exciting parts of space - searching for other earth-like planets - is happening right now. Good candidates are likely to show up in my lifetime, not in 500+ years. If we can find some, then going to Titan is a lot less interesting. Then people will dream of crossing the interstellar void and reaching "new earth". That's the thing about science, we always move the goal posts.

Re:Interesting Stuff (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 3 years ago | (#35857854)

yeah there's methane in fluid form but it's sterile like an operating room it will be just another one of those rocks.

Watch the opening to "The Polar Express" - pay attention to the "Devoid of Life" bit, then watch any of the BBC documentaries about the polar regions...

Things are far more complex and interesting up-close than they ever will be when viewed with less than a trillionth of their reflected light...

Re:Interesting Stuff (1)

master_p (608214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35856646)

I too want it.

We could do it so if humanity wasn't so sort-sighted...all the resources spent in wars could have easily be used to built an Orion class spaceship in orbit with artificial gravity from rotating modules.

Re:Interesting Stuff (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 3 years ago | (#35857896)

The Orion spaceship is the easy part, "Political Science" is the hard one. We're making some progress on the political front, if we could only get the politicians serving the majority of the people, I think we'd be in great shape.

Re:Interesting Stuff (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35857486)

Hi, my name is Joh Deoxiao and I have a limit on data sent through this tap, so I'll get straight to the point: we don't want any of you primitives from the dark ages in our time. I know that you're only like that because you're so energy-deprived that you actually need to do slave work in order to obtain fuel for your cars and have energy delivered to you from power plants. You don't have the basic amenities like fusegens in your shabby brick homes, your farms aren't in automatic reflective folding silos and you haven't built cities on the ocean floor yet. You don't have space manufacturing or astroextraction facilities and your best space capsules cannot even brake to land on Mars unless carrying only the lightest load. Let me tell you that you still have a long way to go, the first human landing on Mars was in 2377, which was only after portable energy problems were solved and they installed reactive braking in the Xinhua capsule. And you'll be sad to know that although we've sent probes to other star systems, we don't have plans to send humans outside our solar system, and to our knowledge there are no other sentient races out there. Oh and there *is* an ocean under Titan's surface but so what, it's a barren world just like the rest of them.

Re:Interesting Stuff (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 3 years ago | (#35857780)

...I wish I was born 500+ years from now so I could actually be able to explore these strange worlds with my own eyes.

Lots of optimistic assumptions built into this one - like a turn-around in the space program's current growth pattern, continued stability of the underlying political structure, and climate.

It is easy to imagine lots of possible 500+ year from now futures, not many of them include the majority of the world population having access to explore interplanetary space, if even just remotely.

Keep dreaming, and vote liberal...

Re:Interesting Stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35858700)

in 500+ years you will be living in a self-contained bio-dome colony...on earth.

Re:Interesting Stuff (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35862254)

Sometimes I wish I was born 500+ years from now

Be thankful that you were not born 500 years ago. We got to see the moon landing at least.

Re:Interesting Stuff (1)

MJMullinII (1232636) | more than 3 years ago | (#35862274)

In all fairness, we might (notice the attention I give to that word) be closer to such explorations than anyone thinks.

While we're certainly decades if not centuries away from being able to physically travel even as close as Titan, "Quantum Entanglement" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spooky_action) might allow for instantaneous communication across distance.

That would allow, with current technology, robotic probes possessing human levels of sophistication because it would alleviate the need for advanced Artificial Intelligence. Specifically, being able to communicate over any distance instantaneously without lag would allow for human beings to remotely control such probes with human levels of intellect (and our ability quickly adapt to changing situations).

Much like the multi-decade "Voyager" probe missions, a craft could be built with the idea of being self-powered with a compliment of robotic crew controlled by humans on Earth. In simple eight hour shifts, the robotic crew would simply be passed between different shifts of humans in simulators on Earth.

Of course, this is all dependent on if "Faster than light" communication is possible at all, in any capacity, which I admit is very much in the air.

Titan May Have Core Made of Marshmallow Fluff (2)

Divide By Zero (70303) | more than 3 years ago | (#35855496)

Granted, this is unlikely, but it's consistent with the article summary.

No, I didn't RTFA - why do you ask?

Re:Titan May Have Core Made of Marshmallow Fluff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35855590)

And an ocean of solid rock above!

Re:Titan May Have Core Made of Marshmallow Fluff (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35855700)

It's got a creamy nougat center with a hard shell outside!

Re:Titan May Have Core Made of Marshmallow Fluff (4, Funny)

cratermoon (765155) | more than 3 years ago | (#35855812)

I think you hit on something. Titan is a Cadbury Egg [foodenator.com] !

Re:Titan May Have Core Made of Marshmallow Fluff (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 3 years ago | (#35856000)

I think you hit on something. Titan is a Cadbury Egg

Highly unlikely ... I'm pretty sure very little of what's inside of a Cadbury Egg is naturally occurring compounds. ;-)

Re:Titan May Have Core Made of Marshmallow Fluff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35859754)

I don't know why, but for some reason I really, really want a Mars bar now.

Incomplete summary! (4, Informative)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 3 years ago | (#35855520)

If there's one thing that should be included there, it's that the 'ocean' isn't a surface ocean, like Earth's, but a SUBSURFACE one, like Europa's!

Editors, for fuck's sake, please check the submissions, not only for grammar, but for factual accuracy too!

Re:Incomplete summary! (2)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35855560)

Yep. Title of Submission: "Titan May Have Ocean". First sentence:" Titan, has been a particular focus of attention because of its dense, complex atmosphere, its weather and its lakes and oceans". Summary seems to not really make sense until you go to the article which states it's a subsurface ocean.

But they're so busy (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35855638)

Approving tens of articles per day while censoring dissent with the moderation system is exhausting work. You should have more sympathy. The few minutes they would have to expend on actually "editing" is just too much to ask.

Re:Incomplete summary! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35855690)

He didn't claim it was a surface ocean either. You're just adding an adjective, not proving him wrong.

Every Titan May Have an Ocean (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35855620)

Every Titan May Have an Ocean.
Sorry. Just trolling :)

ice float because it's LESS dense! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35855642)

Hmmm...interesting data, wrong conclusion. Ice FLOATS because it is LESS dense than water.

Re:ice float because it's LESS dense! (3, Informative)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35855678)

Um, water ice floats because of a peculiarity in H20. Most solids are actually denser than their liquid forms.

Re:ice float because it's LESS dense! (4, Interesting)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 3 years ago | (#35855944)

I'm not sure what the ice on the surface would be made of, or what the density of the liquid methane ocean would be since density depends on pressure, but Methane Clathrate ice is about twice as dense as liquid methane is at atmospheric pressure. Pure methane ice is less dense than liquid methane, so would behave like water ice, but I think it's unlikely to be pure.

Re:ice float because it's LESS dense! (1)

Herve5 (879674) | more than 3 years ago | (#35866054)

at least at its point of impact, I think the Huygens probe (that Cassini dropped on Titan) did identify water ice (plus lots of organic compounds).
I sort of remember the "pebbles are water ice that'll never flow" story...

Hard outer layer, liquid center (1)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | more than 3 years ago | (#35855702)

Sounds like a candy.

Actually if Titan has a methane ocean under the surface, it would really fill the role as out fill up station. Now we take the methane and extract hydrogen to fuel our ships?

Re:Hard outer layer, liquid center (1)

daid303 (843777) | more than 3 years ago | (#35855980)

Actually if Titan has a methane ocean under the surface, it would really fill the role as out fill up station. Now we take the methane and extract hydrogen to fuel our ships?

Methane itself is a fuel already, but you need oxygen to burn it, same with hydrogen.
Saturn itself is 96% H2. Wouldn't that be a better source for your hydrogen?

Anyhow, Earth seems to be the only real source of oxygen. More then enough hydrogen to be found everywhere, seems oxygen is the inter-planet fuel.

Re:Hard outer layer, liquid center (2)

ekgringo (693136) | more than 3 years ago | (#35856676)

I'm not sure that Saturn would be a good place to stop, considering the ENORMOUS gravity well it has. You'd spend all the fuel you just loaded just to get out of orbit.

Re:Hard outer layer, liquid center (1)

eleuthero (812560) | more than 3 years ago | (#35860066)

find a pocket of oxygen in the midst of all the other gases and away you go--seriously, if even a small amount of oxygen were found on any of the gas giants, there would probably be enough for as long as we needed it (64k should be enough for anyone too after all).

but, umm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35855720)

not a planetary genius here but couldn't that point to lots of things other than it just having an ocean?

Re:but, umm (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 3 years ago | (#35855858)

Yes, that's pretty much what the article says. They don't know what the answer is, but a large underground ocean seems to fit the observations. Hence "May Have" in the title.

"Titan May Have an Ocean" (1)

Hermanas (1665329) | more than 3 years ago | (#35855764)

Titan, has been a particular focus of attention because of its dense, complex atmosphere, its weather and its lakes and oceans.

It's more than just a bit strange to claim in the title that Titan may have an ocean, and then state in the first line the planet is of particular interest because it has lakes and oceans. Please, editors, it's a (possible) subsurface ocean.

Re:"Titan May Have an Ocean" (2)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 3 years ago | (#35855894)

After six months of careful study i have determined that the presence of weather, lakes and oceans on Titan indicate that it may in fact have an individual ocean. In the next six months i plan to show that Titan also has an individual lake, followed by showing the existence of an individual cloud. May i have another funding check now please?

Re:"Titan May Have an Ocean" (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#35855994)

Just one cloud?

Re:"Titan May Have an Ocean" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35857158)

To the cloud!

Re:"Titan May Have an Ocean" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35858274)

Titan may have a subsurface ocean full of sea monkeys.

Re:"Titan May Have an Ocean" (1)

eleuthero (812560) | more than 3 years ago | (#35860096)

I've always wondered what would happen if we were to take sulfur based life and crash it into io or some similar creature and crash it into some other planet it would do well on. mountain top lichen might do well on mars after all.

It does or it does not (1)

js3 (319268) | more than 3 years ago | (#35855802)

What's with this "may" stuff? It either does or it does not

Re:It does or it does not (1)

Galaga88 (148206) | more than 3 years ago | (#35855850)

It's a Schrodinger's ocean. All quantum-y, you see.

Re:It does or it does not (1)

dingo_kinznerhook (1544443) | more than 3 years ago | (#35855856)

The evidence supports there being an ocean, but does not prove that there is an ocean.

Re:It does or it does not (2)

dingo_kinznerhook (1544443) | more than 3 years ago | (#35855910)

Or, rather, the evidence supports the theory that an ocean exists, but the ocean hasn't actually been observed.

Re:It does or it does not (1)

robot256 (1635039) | more than 3 years ago | (#35855922)

LOL, normally on /. we get mad at people for taking one scientific study at face value before it's been reviewed or corroborated. Let me know when you have a probe on Titan to verify the presence of this ocean that we think "may" be there based on limited observational evidence which is not yet strong enough to draw a scientifically rigorous conclusion. Until then, don't muddy the waters by asserting certainty where there is none. If all you want are the "facts" produced by scientific research, then don't read cutting edge science articles about the process of discovery and uncertainty that leads to them.

(But I'm not defending sensationally inaccurate /. editors.)

Re:It does or it does not (1)

Unkyjar (1148699) | more than 3 years ago | (#35860276)

FTFA:

"It's also worth pointing out that there is another explanation for Titan's strange moment of inertia. The calculations assume that the moon's orbit is in a steady state but it's also possible that Titan's orbit is changing, perhaps because it has undergone a recent shift due to some large object passing nearby, a comet or asteroid, for example."

Titan != Europa (2)

russlar (1122455) | more than 3 years ago | (#35855860)

sweet! we can land there!

The Drells Ocean (1)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 3 years ago | (#35855874)

It's not only orbit-locked, but it dances just as good as it wants. Now do the Titan Up.

Re:The Drells Ocean (1)

Sigmon (323109) | more than 3 years ago | (#35856102)

Bravo. Bravo.

Okay, now it's obvious (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 3 years ago | (#35856084)

That's no moon

TITAN (not Mars or Europa) should be our goal... (3, Interesting)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 3 years ago | (#35856112)

(... and not even the ice geysers of Enceladus should sway our choice).

Why? Because as Professor Peter Ward claims in his very interesting book on astro-biology "Life as we do not know it", only "Titan holds the promise of not just alien life but of MORE THAN ONE KIND OF FUNDAMENTALLY DIFFERENT alien life". (emphasis mine). There could be."three distinct empires of life, from two entirely different trees; CHON life of two kinds (ammono and water CHON life) and silicon life." (p. 234). While he said the "CHON ammono life would be found, presumably beneath the ice, in the ammonia ocean" and the "silicon life would exist, if it existed at all, in the ethane-methane lakes of Titan's surface" he thought the "earthlike" CHON life would be found in the transient freshwater lakes after an asteroid or comet impact.

Well, if there is a (huge) water ocean beneath the ice (and below the ammonia ocean?) the earthlike CHON life wouldn't have to depend on transient impact events! I guess the reason why the researchers believe the ocean to be water (as opposed to the methane the Technology Review editors seem to think), is because the temperature and pressure at those depths make water the most likely candidate. So anyway to recap, on Titan there are a possibility of THREE COMPLETELY different "empires" (his term) of life with only one of them having even the remotest possibility of being anything like life on earth (even if it is earthlike CHON life, that means only that it uses the carbon and other atoms at energy levels corresponding to liquid water, they might not use DNA, RNA or even proteins!).

The reasons why (he suggests) we should skip over Mars, Europa (and I presume Enceladus) is as follows: while Mars was certainly once capable of supporting (Earthlike CHON) life, now it is cold, dry and likely dead. For Europa (and Enceladus) he claims that while they have the liquid water necessary to support (again earthlike CHON) life, they don't have enough energy. His calculations show that the gravitational flexing caused by Jupiter, the main source of energy for Europa, would only be enough to drive a modest ecosystem that would be dispersed in an ocean of millions of cubic kilometers of water. Too dilute to be sustainable. (The same would be presumably be true to an even greater extent of Enceledus).

Titan, on the other hand, is large enough to presumably be able to generate heat internally (it is the largest moon in the solar system) and also gets (some) energy from tidal interactions with Saturn. An interesting additional input is the (weak) ultraviolet rays from the (distant) sun that hits its atmosphere (the only substantial one of any moon) and creates a whole host of organic compounds. Finally if his speculations on the other empires of life are correct, their much colder metabolism may allow (require?) them to exist on much less energy our liquid water based ones do.

This is, of course, rank speculation but the finding a new empire of life would be truly monumental, it would mean life is likely present in every solar system in the galaxy. Of course even finding "earthlike" CHON life would be astounding. Anyway, if the beauty of Saturn's rings weren't enough, this is another great reason to go back. Besides landing and exploring Titan could be comparatively easy. Aeorobraking, aerocapture and reentry will save a lot of fuel compared with landing on an airless world. Parachutes alone will work extremely well in the dense atmosphere and low gravity (unlike Mars) as will planes and hot "air" balloons. The surface ocean is likely to be very calm so boats and submersibles should be usable. There is also land for rovers and drilling operations. The only problem is distance (and money), so let's get cracking on nuclear powered ion engines!

Re:TITAN (not Mars or Europa) should be our goal.. (2)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#35856644)

Too bad it would take about a year to get to Titan. The best option would be to find some way to go 10 percent the speed of light like a Fusion rocket engine. Then we could get there in 12 hours (relative to the traveler).

Re:TITAN (not Mars or Europa) should be our goal.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35856816)

The largest moon in the solar system is Ganymede. If he said Titan was you may want to check some of his other facts as he missed out on something as elementry as the largest moon in the solar system.

Re:TITAN (not Mars or Europa) should be our goal.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35856938)

Titan, [snip] (it is the largest moon in the solar system)

*Cough*Ganymede*cough*, nit pick, but do carry on.

Re:TITAN (not Mars or Europa) should be our goal.. (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 3 years ago | (#35858732)

Yeah, but Europa also has that weird orange colored water seeping through the ice cracks. That seems like strong enough evidence of something weird going on to investigate. More direct evidence than speculation I mean.

Summary Inaccurate (2)

oscartheduck (866357) | more than 3 years ago | (#35856194)

FTFS: "The numbers indicate that Titan's moment of inertia can only be explained if it is a solid body that is denser near the surface than it is at its centre"

FTFA: "It's also worth pointing out that there is another explanation for Titan's strange moment of inertia. The calculations assume that the moon's orbit is in a steady state but it's also possible that Titan's orbit is changing, perhaps because it has undergone a recent shift due to some large object passing nearby, a comet or asteroid, for example."

YARRRRR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35856254)

Where there be oceans for sailin', there be whales for the whalin'! Fetch quick my harpoon, matie, and lager the ale and rum! We sail at dawn!

Re:YARRRRR (1)

ekgringo (693136) | more than 3 years ago | (#35856786)

We're whalers on Saturn's moon,
We carry a harpoon.
But there ain't no whales
So we tell tall tales
And sing our whaling tune.

Smitter is a moron. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35856688)

The implication that Titan is "stranger still" because it is tidally locked or because it has a subsurface ocean is hogwash. Many moons are tidally locked and subsurface ocean is thought to exist on at least one other moon and is not even news in regards to Titan. Submitter is a tard.

Simulators show oceans as well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35856730)

We are about to discover that Earth is not the only habitable planet with oceans. As a side note, I think some new projects (like this one linked) that simulate solar systems are quite neat and their planets sport oceans as well:

http://www.etereo.com.br

the sirens of titan? (1)

cromega (2044870) | more than 3 years ago | (#35857346)

if it has an ocean its just logical to assume there are sirens too

Gravity? (1)

gorrepati (866378) | more than 3 years ago | (#35858782)

Doesn't gravity dictate that more massive stuff should fall into the core?

That diagram... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35860054)

OK who is the joker trying to pass off Spirograph doodles as scientific data? April 1st is long past.

Old news (1)

Kittenman (971447) | more than 3 years ago | (#35861242)

My wife gave birth to our daughter in a "Surf Titan!" t-shirt, from the Planetary society. Daughter is 16 in August. And no, I don't have pictures.

http://www.fullmalls.com (0)

xiaojiekyytt (2045166) | more than 3 years ago | (#35863498)

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And this is news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35864252)

This is not a new hypothesis:
Lorenz et al. from 2008

Lorenz, R.D. et al., "Titan's Rotation Reveals an Internal Ocean and Changing Zonal Winds", Science, 319, 1649-1651, 21 Mar 2008

Titan is made of.... (1)

SoundGuyNoise (864550) | more than 3 years ago | (#35864966)

Spirograph?!?!
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