Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Titan May Have Water Ocean Under the Surface

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the water-the-chances dept.

NASA 64

RedEaredSlider writes "NASA's Cassini probe, in orbit around Saturn, may have discovered evidence for a liquid water ocean under the surface of Titan, Saturn's largest moon. The data comes from radar observations of the surface that measure Titan's rotation and tell how it is oriented relative to the plane of its orbit — its axial tilt. According to a paper to be published in an upcoming issue of Astronomy and Astrophysics (preprint PDF at arXiv.org), the new data showed that many of the planet's surface features were in the wrong place, sometimes off by as much as 30 kilometers (19 miles). Titan always presents the same face toward Saturn, just like the Moon does to Earth. But in those situations, one expects that the moon will be in the 'Cassini state,' which means that the axial tilt will have a certain value. In Titan's case, the axial tilt was measured at 0.3 degrees. That seemed too high if one assumed Titan was a solid body."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

THEY CALL HIM FLIPPER !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36057662)

That fish under the sea
For you and me

Nice public bath (1)

BSAtHome (455370) | more than 3 years ago | (#36057768)

I'd like to get a ticket for a swim. Even if it is one-way, it should provide good stuff for a blog to fill. I might even have (new) friends on facebook who I can invite for a fishing trip.

Sort of reminds me (2)

assertation (1255714) | more than 3 years ago | (#36057770)

Sort of reminds me of lyrics from the Talking Heads song "Once In A Life Time"

" under the rocks and stones there is water"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1wg1DNHbNU [youtube.com]

Huh?? (2)

jmd_akbar (1777312) | more than 3 years ago | (#36057784)

Haven't they been saying this for a while now??? I remember seeing something like this a while back

Re:Huh?? (2, Informative)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#36057804)

That was Europa. Remember: 'Attempt no landings there'.

This is very interesting. If water is ubiquitous and there is energy and time, that may be all we need for life. Drake equation, here we come!

Re:Huh?? (1)

jmd_akbar (1777312) | more than 3 years ago | (#36057912)

OOps.. YEA!! :P Forgot.. Damn, my RAM is really Random and Volatile.. ;)

Re:Huh?? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060124)

If water is ubiquitous

Water is the third most common molecule in the universe.

Re:Huh?? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062118)

OK, OK,

If liquid water is ubiquitous ....

Man, this is a hard audience.

Re:Huh?? (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 3 years ago | (#36058062)

Yeah, I remember seeing a similar story a few weeks ago here...

Like Europa? (1)

dadelbunts (1727498) | more than 3 years ago | (#36057796)

I think we have a higher chance of finding water on Europa than on titan.

Re:Like Europa? (4, Interesting)

Maritz (1829006) | more than 3 years ago | (#36058626)

The existence of liquid water on Europa is already pretty much a done deal due to the surface features that have been photographed. Richard Greenberg's "Unmasking Europa" is a particularly interesting read on the subject in my opinion as he outlines a strong case that the ice is much thinner than some planetary scientists believe. There are regions on the surface known as 'chaos' that appear to be formed by melt through from beneath the surface. Interestingly the celestial mechanics pointed to very high tidal forces on the Galilean moons just before the first Voyager probe arrived there and almost immediately found the incredibly actively volcanic Io.

If there is water beneath Titan's surface I would imagine that it represents a much more difficult target for a drill/melt through probe than Europa, because of the thick atmosphere and the unknown rigidity of the surface, as well as the dangers of landing in liquid. Having said that, it's great to have more potential habitats in the solar system. Enceladus's ice plumes indicate possible pockets of water below the icy crust there too.

The Europa-Jupiter System mission is scheduled for 2020 and should give a much richer pool of data on Europa, the Galileo probe sadly malfunctioned and was only able to provide a tiny fraction of the data that was intended, so there are relatively few high resolution photos available of Europa. The entire Europa catalogue can fit on one CD. The EJSM mission should also be able to settle the issue of just how thick the ice on Europa is. In his book Greenberg argues that the entire surface is recycled on the order of every few hundred thousand years at most, meaning that material from the surface could be cycled down to the ocean below, which would boost the chances of some kind of life existing considerably.

One thing we can be pretty sure of is that if life is detected on Europa, we have to conclude that life is very likely indeed to be commonplace in the Universe.

Re:Like Europa? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36058974)

Yes, but we can attempt no landing there

Re:Like Europa? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36059884)

Do or do not.

Re:Like Europa? (1)

Spugglefink (1041680) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060744)

Yes, but we can attempt no landing there

No, that's only after Jupiter ignites and becomes a star.

Besides, by the look of things all of that is obviously not going to happen for a good while yet. We're an extremely long way from achieving anything that's supposed to have happened according to those books.

Number at end of story title (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36057810)

There is a number showing up at the end of the story title. It seems to have just started today. Does any one know what it is and if it can be disabled? Thanks.

Re:Number at end of story title (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36058154)

It is the number of comments on the story. It is not showing up for me now but it did yesterday. Strange...

Re:Number at end of story title (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36059110)

First broken fortunes and now this... what is going on with Slashdot?

deja vu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36057826)

That's one small swim for a man, one giant leap for mankind.

Might not be water (1)

currently_awake (1248758) | more than 3 years ago | (#36057898)

Having an ocean under the ice doesn't mean water, it might be methane something or other instead.

Re:Might not be water (2)

slashqwerty (1099091) | more than 3 years ago | (#36058108)

Agreed. Looking at the paper [arxiv.org] they noticed the moon's axial tilt doesn't match current theories. So they assumed the moon had a water ocean, calculated what the characteristics of that water ocean would need to be to explain the discrepancy and said, "see, it's possible".

Re:Might not be water (2)

beaker8000 (1815376) | more than 3 years ago | (#36058178)

So they assumed the moon had a water ocean

Nope. Previous research concluded Titan's body consists of about half rock and half water ice. They are saying some of that water ice is actually liquid. They aren't assuming anything, but rather just building on prior research like normal.

Re:Might not be water (1)

slashqwerty (1099091) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060256)

Directly from the abstract [arxiv.org] :

We propose a new Cassini state model for Titan in which we assume the presence of a liquid water ocean beneath an ice shell

Ocean? (-1)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 3 years ago | (#36057930)

For scientists - in fact, *rocket* scientists - they seem to have a strange definition for the word "ocean". This sounds more like a large cave filled with water.

Re:Ocean? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36058432)

For scientists - in fact, *rocket* scientists - they seem to have a strange definition for the word "ocean".

So? Astrophysicists apparently call anything heavier than helium a 'metal'. Terms of the art, you know?

Anyway, an ocean is merely a large body of water so you get a -1 Overrated. Have a Nice Day.

At -179 degrees celius, I don't believe this B.S. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36057938)

I really doubt this. If you wikipedia titan moon you'll see the temperature is -179 degrees celius.

Re:At -179 degrees celius, I don't believe this B. (5, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#36058022)

I really doubt this. If you wikipedia titan moon you'll see the temperature is -179 degrees celius.

At what pressure beneath the surface? Remember, water is a weirdo substance where liquid takes up less volume than solid. increase the pressure enough and H2O below 0C will still be liquid. Plus, -179C is the surface temperature. Perhaps the core is warmer?

Re:At -179 degrees celius, I don't believe this B. (2)

beaker8000 (1815376) | more than 3 years ago | (#36058078)

Yep, I think the internal heat is tidally generated like Europa. Saturn's gravity stretches Titan at some times more than others, and this stretching causes friction and generates internal heat.

Re:At -179 degrees celius, I don't believe this B. (1)

Framboise (521772) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061168)

-179 C is the surface temperature. As on Earth temperature rises with depth because heat is generated inside, by radioactivity in Earth, and mainly by Saturn tidal friction in Titan. If the core tempeature is much higher than 100 C then there is necessarily a depth range at which the temperature is between the fusion and boiling temperature of water, which means liquid water can exist. In the quoted news article it is not explained why only water and not other molecules would provides the liquid conditions. I presume water is a learned guess from what is known in other bodies of the solar system.

 

Re:At -179 degrees celius, I don't believe this B. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36058104)

well the external temperature of Europa is about 100K (-173C or so) or so, well below freezing, but the tidal interaction between Europa, Ganymede, Io, and jupiter cause such pressure stresses that it raises the internal temperature (enough so that Europa has the south pole water vapor plumes that we recently discovered).

Its plausible that this kind of effect can occur in Titan as well, although i dont know for sure if its expected

Re:At -179 degrees celius, I don't believe this B. (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060094)

You don't need to heat it up (although it helps). Water ice is an unusual solid in that it turns to a liquid under pressure, this is due to the fact that ice is less dense that liquid water. Therfore once you go deep enough under the surface any water found there must be in either liquid or gaseous form. This puts a physical upper limit on how deep the ice crust can be on Europa, allthough I have no idea what that limit is.

The really intriging thing about Europa's tidal heating is that it is strong enough to induce undersea volcanic plumes, which is where many people think life first arose on Earth.

Re:At -179 degrees celius, I don't believe this B. (1)

Cyberllama (113628) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060608)

The cold is not a deal breaker. Remember how pressure impacts boiling/freezing points from high school chemistry? Consider the sub-glacial lakes of Antarctica, for instance: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Vostok [wikipedia.org]

Lake Vostok is liquid at a temperature well below freezing simply because of the pressure of the ice above it. As long as it remains under pressure, the freezing point is significantly lowered.

Isn't this old news? (1)

assertation (1255714) | more than 3 years ago | (#36058010)

I seem to remember reading some very old sci-fi stories by the late Arthur Clarke that had this possibility as a theme.

Re:Isn't this old news? (1)

spauldo (118058) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059796)

Back then, all we knew about Titan was its size, orbit, and the existence of an atmosphere.

It was exciting mostly because moons generally don't have atmospheres. It was an anomaly. Sir Arthur was one of the more science-oriented authors out there, but he didn't have much to work on, so he made stuff up. It was just a lucky guess.

Re:Isn't this old news? (1)

Trogre (513942) | more than 3 years ago | (#36067802)

Well, that and the same story was posted here over two weeks ago.

It doesn't matter... (2)

kvvbassboy (2010962) | more than 3 years ago | (#36058012)

It doesn't matter, apart from an interesting scientific study. Once they are able to get people to the moon or mars profitably, then we can start worrying about water.

Re:It doesn't matter... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36058422)

Personally I'm opting for the moon. If we can't even get there why waste money on far off celestial bodies. Plus I'd hate to see the Chinese populate it.

Re:It doesn't matter... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36058672)

Plus I'd hate to see the Chinese populate it.

Why?

Re:It doesn't matter... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36058858)

Racism meant the difference between a +1 Interesting and the -1 Flamebait you got. Try to remember for next time, and Have a Nice Day.

Re:It doesn't matter... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36059138)

Moderation: Serious Business.

Re:It doesn't matter... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36060756)

Racism meant the difference between a +1 Interesting and the -1 Flamebait you got.

Why do you assume racism? Perhaps he had a problem with, oh ya know, their politics n' stuff. Try to remember that for next time, ok?

Hurry up! (2)

Brad1138 (590148) | more than 3 years ago | (#36058346)

I hope I live long enough to see them get a probe through the ice into the water of either Europa or Titan. It would be SO cool to see some form of alien life living there. At 44, I figure they better get moving, I got about 40 years...

On Titan ice is a "rock" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36058412)

For residents of the moon, that would be "molten ice".

hard to take serious (2)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 3 years ago | (#36058600)

new data showed that many of the planet's surface features were in the wrong place, sometimes off by as much as 30 kilometers (19 miles).

I find it hard to take seriously any "scientific" paper which refers to Titan as a planet rather than a moon.

Re:hard to take serious (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059528)

new data showed that many of the planet's surface features were in the wrong place, sometimes off by as much as 30 kilometers (19 miles).

I find it hard to take seriously any "scientific" paper which refers to Titan as a planet rather than a moon.

That's no Moon! It's a -- oh, wait... yeah, it is, my bad.

Re:hard to take serious (1)

rhook (943951) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059942)

It is actually considered to be a "planet-like moon", due to it having a dense atmosphere. It is also large enough to be a planet, being larger than Mercury (although having less mass).

Re:hard to take serious (1)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 3 years ago | (#36066392)

The paper, of course, says no such thing. ibtimes.com, however, is quite silly.

Obscure game reference (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 3 years ago | (#36058630)

So, when will the Lazarus and Klamp-G families start colonizing the place? I want my Tiger Moth!

Re:Obscure game reference (1)

BertieBaggio (944287) | more than 3 years ago | (#36077370)

The future is greedy.

(PS check out UIM if you still have it lying around)

If there is life on Europa (1)

Maritz (1829006) | more than 3 years ago | (#36058674)

Then it stands to reason that frozen samples of it may be freely orbiting in the Jupiter system having been smashed into orbit by impacts on Europa's surface. It'd be interesting to know if any mission planners are considering this when thinking about future missions like EJSM. Russia is thinking of sending a lander with the EJSM so maybe samples could be found on the surface. I guess a sample/return mission is well out of feasibility for the foreseeable future sadly. I personally think Europa is potentially the most interesting body in the solar system at present from an exobiology point of view.

If there is life on titan.... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36058780)

They better welcome there new human overlords.

Hmmm (1)

Legion303 (97901) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059462)

As I recall, Titan also has amino acids.

Shit just got real, yo.

ao (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36059624)

please visit mercedes benz [blogspot.com]

Huygens did not find any ocean evidence (2)

Lotana (842533) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059712)

The hypothesis that Titan may have liquids present has been around for a long time. And it used the orbit shape since its basis from the very beginning. That is why Huygens [wikipedia.org] atmospheric probe was designed to float just in case.

However Huygens landed on a solid surface even though it was aimed at an area that had an appearance of a liquid. As far as I know the probe did not detect any evidence of liquids near the landing site nor from the aerial imagery. As such, I was under the impression that this hypothesis was disproved.

If there were underground bodies of water present, surely Huygens would of picked up evidence of this in the atmosphere. Just seems like rather than working on other explanations for the orbit scientists still cling to the same assumptions with a little more justification.

Re:Huygens did not find any ocean evidence (1)

Joe Tie. (567096) | more than 3 years ago | (#36061274)

Of every comment in this thread, this is the one I keep coming back to in hopes of seeing a reply.

Re:Huygens did not find any ocean evidence (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36063696)

Well here's a reply..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huygens_(spacecraft)#Findings

Preliminary findings seemed to confirm the presence of large bodies of liquid on the surface of Titan. The photos showed what appear to be large drainage channels crossing the lighter coloured mainland into a dark sea. Some of the photos even seem to suggest islands and mist shrouded coastline.

Moon's face towards the earth? (1)

sking (42926) | more than 3 years ago | (#36059892)

I thought the Earth's moon always presented the same face toward the sun. Am I totally misunderstanding what this means?

Re:Moon's face towards the earth? (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060714)

you thought wrong. The moon isn't tidally locked with the sun... it's locked with the EARTH.

Re:Moon's face towards the earth? (1)

sking (42926) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062256)

I understand that the moon is tidally locked with the earth. What I don't understand is why the moon's movement is described as being "such that the same face is always facing the Earth." It appears to me as though the same area of the moon is being constantly lit by the sun. Doesn't that mean that that "face" is always facing the sun? I am not trying to be argumentative nor refute Cassini's Laws. I am just trying to understand the meaning of "face" in this particular context.

Re:Moon's face towards the earth? (1)

pjbgravely (751384) | more than 3 years ago | (#36065484)

There is no dark side of the Moon. The Moon is tidally locked to its planet like most moons, meaning its orbit is the same length of its revolution which is about 27 days. This means a day on the Moon, sun rise to sun rise is about 27 days. The phases on the Moon that we see are a result of that day.

Re:Moon's face towards the earth? (1)

Amorymeltzer (1213818) | more than 3 years ago | (#36066418)

Face is what we see. The portion of the moon that is being lit by the sun is constantly changing, but we only have the pleasure of seeing the same portion of the moon, no matter what. When the sun is lighting up that portion - full moon. When the sun is lighting up the opposite portion - new/no moon. Everything else is in between.

Re:Moon's face towards the earth? (1)

sking (42926) | more than 3 years ago | (#36068040)

I totally get it now. Thanks, folks.

Now to get over feeling like a total ignoramus.

Puppet Masters came from Titan (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 3 years ago | (#36060728)

so yes they do have water there. However they hate taking baths, which indicates the water could be of poor quality.

Chance of life? (1)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | more than 3 years ago | (#36062748)

Whats he chance of having life here or on Europa?

Veneforming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36063596)

Time to get Titan on a collision course towards Venus!
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?