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Pictures of Titan's Lakes

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the in-space-nobody-can-hear-you-fish dept.

Space 119

sighted writes "For decades, scientists have wondered if the thick orange haze that shrouds Saturn's giant moon Titan hid lakes of liquid methane on the surface, but there was no way to confirm it, until now. The Cassini flyby of July 22, 2006 took these striking images and were released today."

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FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17453106)

FP. first.

or... (1, Funny)

ReidMaynard (161608) | more than 7 years ago | (#17453118)

Or...God has a leaky blue pen

I can't help myself... (0, Flamebait)

Cjays (866936) | more than 7 years ago | (#17453542)

"The pen is blue! The pen is blue! The goddamn pen is blue!"

Re:I can't help myself... (2, Insightful)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 7 years ago | (#17455298)

HAHAHAHAHA. Oh who ever knew that quoting Jim Carey could be flamebait.

Re:or... (0, Redundant)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#17454620)

"My God! It's full of [garble bloop bloop bloop]"

Vacation on Titan (5, Funny)

Stephen Tennant (936097) | more than 7 years ago | (#17453122)

Swimming in liquid farts

Re:Vacation on Titan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17453262)

Actually H2S would have very low solubility in liquid methane, and on Titan it would be rock solid. Mercaptans would be frozen solid too.

OMG it was a joke (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17454962)

LOL, he was making a joke about the fact that fart gas is methane and there are oceans of liquid methane on Titan. He didn't ask for a complete analysis of fart gas and whether it's possible to liquefy a fart and the liquid still technically consist of "fart" material.

At least if you fart while you're swimming, your bubbles might not make it to the surface for everyone to see cause they might liquefy and join the existing liquid methane :) So, you can relax and no worry about getting caught!

Re:Vacation on Titan (4, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#17454002)

That would then be like vacationing in Bayonne, NJ or Scranton, PA and no one wants to do that.

Re:Vacation on Titan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17455042)

The term "hershey squirt" is hereby replaced wih the phrase "moon liquid."

Nice (1)

TimeCr0ss (932267) | more than 7 years ago | (#17453128)

Pretty cool stuff.

Any signs of Transformers...? (3, Funny)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#17453134)

I heard they wander around the Solar system wrecking anything they see.

Re:Any signs of Transformers...? (4, Insightful)

NeuroManson (214835) | more than 7 years ago | (#17455790)

No, that's just Michael Bay.

Re:Any signs of Transformers...? (1)

nra1871 (836627) | more than 7 years ago | (#17457254)

God I wish I had mod points for that one! Bumblebee is NOT a Camaro!

Re:Any signs of Transformers...? (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#17458972)

God I wish I had mod points for that one! Bumblebee is NOT a Camaro!

VW refused a license. I suppose they should've went for VW anyway and then spend few years in jail. That's the most logical option.

Re:Any signs of Transformers...? (1)

nra1871 (836627) | more than 7 years ago | (#17459312)

Bah, the 1986 film did it right. There was no need to change everything.

Confirmed? (4, Interesting)

Cthefuture (665326) | more than 7 years ago | (#17453138)

You mean "more evidence suggesting liquid"?

Hardly proof.

Re:Confirmed? (1)

Teresita (982888) | more than 7 years ago | (#17453264)

You mean "more evidence suggesting liquid"?

Bingo. And they could have tinted the "life" pink in the Mars rock they found in Antarctica in 1996. At least the old black and white Mariner 4 photos were honest.

Re:Confirmed? (2, Funny)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#17454338)

Well...they are blue.

Re:Confirmed? (3, Informative)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 7 years ago | (#17454414)

They seem fairly certain. From the original Nature article [nature.com] :
Only two hypotheses are consistent with the radiometric and morphological characteristics of the dark patches: either we are observing liquid-filled lakes on Titan today, or depressions and channels formed in the past have now been infilled by a very low-density deposit that is darker than any observed elsewhere on Titan. The absence of any aeolian features in this area makes low-density, porous, unconsolidated sediments unlikely. This, combined with the morphologic characteristics of the dark patches, leads us to conclude that the dark patches are lakes containing liquid hydrocarbons.

Wake us up when you actually have something wet... (1, Interesting)

Richard Kirk (535523) | more than 7 years ago | (#17455754)

Mister Grumpy writes...

I don't think this is conclusive. As one of the other earlier posts said, they have taken the rough areas and coloured them rock colour, and taken the smooth areas and coloured them water colour. At the edge of these 'lake' features there are intermediate regions which are pretty flat and might be either shallow lake or a flat shore. Or something else completly different.

The article suggests we will in time know what we have. It is probably not sand because there aren't any dunes. If they are lakes, then the lake height ought to change with the seasons. In the meantime colouring it blue isn't really helping.

When I was a lad, Venus was believed to have huge oceans of soda water. Mars had a canal system. Tintin 'Destination Moon' book had underground ice on the moon. In the last fifty years we have visited all sorts of extraordinary places, and everywhere has turned out to be pretty dry. The lander shots of Titan looked just like a coastline, but that was not wet. There is an intriguing trickle of something in a crater on Mars. So far, the more we look, the less we find, and the more sceptical I get. Is this sort of thing really necessary to get funding for space exploration?

Re:Wake us up when you actually have something wet (1)

It'sYerMam (762418) | more than 7 years ago | (#17457222)

Given two arguments, one expressing two possible explanations for the evidence (the high radar absorption) and discounting one of these due to its unlikelihood, and another one saying "All the evidence for water before turned out to be wrong" the former is much more convincing. Because it is a scientific argument based on evidence. The false colour is irrelevant - the areas of low radar reflection still need an explanation, and "lake" is currently the most likely. You also seem to be under the impression that these are water lakes, which they are not.
Furthermore, they have not taken the rough areas and coloured them rock, etc, they have taken the dark areas and coloured them blueish, and the light areas brown. Smoothness has nothing to do with it, since this is not a height map but a radar reflection map.

Re:Wake us up when you actually have something wet (1)

Thraxen (455388) | more than 7 years ago | (#17458008)

For the record, liquid water on Mmars hasn't been ruled out. Maybe you missed it, but a few weeks ago they found new channels that appear to have been formed by flowing water.

Re:Wake us up when you actually have something wet (1)

shaitand (626655) | more than 7 years ago | (#17459320)

You honestly believe that the Earth is the only place in the Universe that ANY form of matter can be found in a liquid state?

Wow, the odds that one of the three fundamental states of matter exists on only one of the trillions of rocks in the universe are so poor it actually boggles the mind to contemplate how poor they are. I mean, there are a lot of forms of matter and they turn liquid at different temps. Each of those rocks floating around out there houses lots of different forms of matter and each contains a different temperature range. Each of the trillions of rocks has what, a few thousand potential liquids and if even one, anywhere, has even a drop of liquid then you are wrong. It doesn't have to be life bringing liquid, after all the methane lakes they are talking about here couldn't support any form of life that we know of.

It reminds me... (1)

phxhawke (35260) | more than 7 years ago | (#17453144)

...of a ringworld actually. Now to texture map it to a 3D model of one.

The ultimate FPS or MMORPG game; one lap around... (1)

Grog6 (85859) | more than 7 years ago | (#17453422)

...The whole ringworld!

It could last from a persons teens, into middle age, with no repeats...

Could be you would turn Into a pak before finishing...

I just want One trip into a planet at high speed in a General Products hull. (With stasis field at the end, of course...but that last second would look really cool!)

Re:The ultimate FPS or MMORPG game; one lap around (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 7 years ago | (#17453776)


>It could last from a persons teens, into middle age, with no repeats...

It took me that long to read all the books, although I could have done without "Throne."

Re:It reminds me... (1)

Skater (41976) | more than 7 years ago | (#17453470)

Can we exaggerate the vertical 20 times, then print pictures of that in textbooks?

Re:It reminds me... (2, Informative)

necro2607 (771790) | more than 7 years ago | (#17453482)

I would imagine the imagine is a long strip like that because the Cassini radar instrument simply flew along in a straight line, therefore only capturing a narrow strip of surveyed data along that straight line (as opposed to getting a large square or circular capture).

More information at ... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17453164)

This other location at the Cassini site [nasa.gov] , and this older article from the BBC [bbc.co.uk] .

The original article is in the journal Nature [nature.com] , but you need a subscription to view it. You can still read the abstract [nature.com] , though.

Re:More information at ... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#17454670)

but you need a subscription to view it.

But the article said you need radar to view it ;-P
     

Evidence of life? (2, Funny)

LarryLong (899387) | more than 7 years ago | (#17453172)

I'm surprised this isn't being reported as evidence that cows once lived on Titan.

Re:Evidence of life? (1)

DocZayus (1046358) | more than 7 years ago | (#17453590)

Are you saying there's a cow level?

Re:Evidence of life? (1)

WhyDoYouWantToKnow (1039964) | more than 7 years ago | (#17454064)

Yes, but it's a secret.

Re:Evidence of life? thars petrolium (3, Funny)

kurt555gs (309278) | more than 7 years ago | (#17454118)

Wow, Finally a way to get this administration to fund space exploration. Petroleum.

Now if we could only start a rumor there are weapons of mass destruction, terrorist training camps, and Oceans of petroleum product on Titan, we could leave Iraq, and start a gold rush like rocket race to Saturn's moon.

Ye Ha , lakes full or petro.

Cheers

Re:Evidence of life? thars petrolium (1)

Basehart (633304) | more than 7 years ago | (#17454898)

If I were Bin Laden (which I'm not btw) I'd think seriously about getting a life sized model of myself up to Titan. The sight of it floating in one of those methane lakes would take the pressure off for sure.

Yeah, but... (1)

NeuroManson (214835) | more than 7 years ago | (#17455784)

"There's farts in them thar hills!" doesn't have the same appeal.

Somebody has to say it (5, Funny)

LarryLong (899387) | more than 7 years ago | (#17453192)

Maybe the methane came from Uranus? Sorry. :)

Re:Somebody has to say it (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 7 years ago | (#17453302)

I believe the phrase from "Flash Bazbo, Space Explorer!" was,

"Languish in caves of methane ice!"

But at the moment, I can't even remember where the Flash Bazbo reference came from - maybe it was Firesign Theater.

And someone else has to say.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17453388)

It was renamed to Urectum, just to end that lame joke once and for all.

Re:And someone else has to say.... (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 7 years ago | (#17456216)

It was renamed to Urectum, just to end that lame joke once and for all.

But now I'm afraid we need something new to end that Urectum joke.

Re:And someone else has to say.... (1)

hesiod (111176) | more than 7 years ago | (#17458946)

Urcornhole sounds innocuous enough.

Re:Somebody has to say it (1)

iDope (916846) | more than 7 years ago | (#17455774)

That was the funniest Uranus joke I have heard in a while.

This should be an "AskSlashdot" topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17453216)

Hi, my name is Anonymous Coward, and I think there are lakes on Titan because of this wikipedia link [wikipedia.org]. What do other Slashdotters think??

why is liquid methane a big deal? (3, Interesting)

Eto_Demerzel79 (1011949) | more than 7 years ago | (#17453228)

I can understand that if we found liquid water elsewhere in the solar system it should make news, but who cares about liquid methane? Afterall Jupiter (http://www.nineplanets.org/jupiter.html [nineplanets.org] ) has "exotic" liquid metallic hydrogen and liquid helium. I doubt it is possible to drive any biologically important reactions at the temperatures present on Titan. We simply confirmed that our knowledge of the methane phase diagram is correct. Let me know if they find something useful, like platinum or palladium on Phobos...

Re:why is liquid methane a big deal? (4, Interesting)

darkonc (47285) | more than 7 years ago | (#17453372)

The reactions that we're used to will obviously not work on Titan, but there's always a (very small) possibility that other forms of life could could evolve in the context of methane seas. If nothing else, a liquid base would allow simple life forms to develop without having to figure out the physics of supporting themselves and move around (as per the way that life is believed to have evolved on earth).

However, given that just about any chemical process is gonna run rather slow at the kinds of temperatures that exist on Titan we shouldn't expect any life that we find there to be very developed.

The next obvious step is to send something down to swim in the methane oceans of titan, and see if it gets eaten (or, at least, finds signs of (non)organic life. I don' think that it's that much lower a probability than finding life signs on mars (presuming that we figure out how to look for methane-based life), although it's admittedly a bit more expensive to go to Jupiter than it is to go to Mars.

Re:why is liquid methane a big deal? (3, Insightful)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 7 years ago | (#17454584)

Ehhh...the average surface temperature of Titan is estimated to be 90 Kelvin, compared to Mars at 210 Kelvin. It seems extremely unlikely that the kinds of chemical reactions necessary for any kind of life could occur.

The discovery is a "big deal" because we know something about part of our solar system we didn't know before. If you read the articles, part of the discovery is a likely methane rainfall cycle, including "methanifers" (analogous to aquifers). It's fascinating stuff, IMO.

Re:why is liquid methane a big deal? (2, Interesting)

Urkki (668283) | more than 7 years ago | (#17455636)

It seems extremely unlikely that the kinds of chemical reactions necessary for any kind of life could occur.

To me, it seems extremely unlikely that we could give any kind of reliable estimate on how unlikely that is...

OTOH, all we'd need is a version of Urey-Miller experiment that used (our best guess of) the chemicals and the environment of Titan. Then let it simmer for a time, and see if any promising complex chain forming molecules (such as our amino acids) appeared... I wonder if anybody has attempted such and experiment.

Re:why is liquid methane a big deal? (2, Interesting)

Eto_Demerzel79 (1011949) | more than 7 years ago | (#17455694)

OTOH, all we'd need is a version of Urey-Miller experiment that used (our best guess of) the chemicals and the environment of Titan. Then let it simmer for a time, and see if any promising complex chain forming molecules (such as our amino acids) appeared... I wonder if anybody has attempted such and experiment.
It would definitely be worth a try if you had the glassware laying around but the temperature is still a problem. A more likely source for amino acids in an environment like Titan would probably be asteroids.

Re:why is liquid methane a big deal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17456404)

Amino acids are no big deal. Indeed they have been found in meteorites, though in racemic form so they are most likely not of biological origin.

Re:why is liquid methane a big deal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17459170)

Because it's there!

Average temp does not say anything about range of temps.

Those whose brains are locked into the earth centric human lifetime context seldom considers universal diversity of time scales.

 

Re:why is liquid methane a big deal? (1)

qazsedcft (911254) | more than 7 years ago | (#17455610)

although it's admittedly a bit more expensive to go to Jupiter than it is to go to Mars.

First, Titan is a moon of Saturn not Jupiter. Second, in most solar system models you can't see this clearly, but Jupiter is more than three times further from us than Mars and Saturn is almost two times further than Jupiter. So, not even considering other technical aspects, it's a lot more expensive to go there than to go to Mars.

Re:why is liquid methane a big deal? (1)

oohshiny (998054) | more than 7 years ago | (#17453594)

I can understand that if we found liquid water elsewhere in the solar system it should make news, but who cares about liquid methane?

Well, quite apart from biology, it's certainly an interesting comparison in terms of surface features and geology.

I doubt it is possible to drive any biologically important reactions at the temperatures present on Titan.

I don't see why not; biology has managed to cope with nearly the entire temperature range over which water is liquid on this planet, so why shouldn't biochemical reactions adapt to very low temperatures? If anything, all things being equal, lower temperatures would seem to be an advantage.

Re:why is liquid methane a big deal? (1)

Eto_Demerzel79 (1011949) | more than 7 years ago | (#17455614)

Well, quite apart from biology, it's certainly an interesting comparison in terms of surface features and geology.
Isn't mars more interesting with its weather patterns and erosion that possibly could have been caused by water(!)? Even if mars never had water present on the surface, the scale and topography is closer to earth.
I don't see why not; biology has managed to cope with nearly the entire temperature range over which water is liquid on this planet, so why shouldn't biochemical reactions adapt to very low temperatures? If anything, all things being equal, lower temperatures would seem to be an advantage.
Actually reaction kinetics as a rule drop off exponentially with decreasing temperature, although if you can think of an advantage I will certainly listen. The diffusion rates of most organic (i.e. carbon based) reactions would be prohibitive. The only atoms that I can think of that have a similar chemistry to carbon would be silicon, boron, or sulfur and I do not think that they can form complex networks needed to make enzymes or proteins. Also, liquid methane would have significantly different properties than water. Methane is non-polar and will not dissolve the multitude of ions needed to keep even a single celled organism alive.

Re:why is liquid methane a big deal? (1)

firenurse (911721) | more than 7 years ago | (#17454430)

As an energy source it is interesting. But by the time it could be utilized here; hopefully, we will have developed cleaner alternative fuels. Perhaps as a "pit stop" on the highway out or our neck of the galaxy?

Re:why is liquid methane a big deal? (1)

Eto_Demerzel79 (1011949) | more than 7 years ago | (#17455662)

Perhaps as a "pit stop" on the highway out or our neck of the galaxy?
It could definitely help with refueling. It would probably be necessary to develop a method to convert the methane into a useful fuel such as acetylene.

Re:why is liquid methane a big deal? (2, Interesting)

CorSci81 (1007499) | more than 7 years ago | (#17454688)

I worked on this project as a grad student at Caltech, so I think I may actually have something useful to add. The reason we care is that Titan is the only other body in the solar system to exhibit anything remotely analogous to a hydrological cycle at Earth-like atmospheric pressure, and with observable surface geology. This is useful because it gives us a solar system analog to weather, hydrology, and hydrological weathering; which will benefit us in understanding how our own planet works. The only other planets that are remotely similar are Venus and Mars, which aren't that similar. If you can get past the temperature issue and replace water with methane/ethane Titan has the most Earth-like atmosphere of any other planet. That's why this is a big deal.

Re:why is liquid methane a big deal? (1)

Eto_Demerzel79 (1011949) | more than 7 years ago | (#17455642)

If you can get past the temperature issue and replace water with methane/ethane
As a former chemist I have a hard time doing that...you cannot dissolve ions in a liquid methane/ethane environment. This makes most life sustaining reactions impossible in that kind of environment. I do agree that it will help us understand weather patterns on Earth but we could probably have gotten the same information if we spent the money on geological research rather than sending up a rocket.

Nessie (-1, Offtopic)

bar-agent (698856) | more than 7 years ago | (#17453242)

I've found the Loch Ness Monster! It's in the X-chromosome-shaped lake.

No wonder we've never found proof -- she migrated to Titan!

Here's a question... (2, Interesting)

robogymnast (755411) | more than 7 years ago | (#17453282)

Why did it take them 6 months to release the images?

Re:Here's a question... (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 7 years ago | (#17453368)

Had to sort the images with no 'billboards' for human or horse products.

Re:Here's a question... (3, Funny)

Swimport (1034164) | more than 7 years ago | (#17453962)

Why did it take them 6 months to release the images?

Because thats how long it took to false color the image to look like a desert with lakes...

Re:Here's a question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17455176)

It's actually just my carpet after being sprayed with luminol.

And on another note, wtf:

Slow Down Cowboy!

Slashdot requires you to wait between each successful posting of a comment to allow everyone a fair chance at posting a comment.

It's been 35 minutes since you last successfully posted a comment

Is slashdot now hosted in florida? At one point it was 10 minutes, another time 20 minutes. Now this? All of these time delays were just TODAY.

Re:Here's a question... (1, Insightful)

Ingolfke (515826) | more than 7 years ago | (#17454266)

Why did it take them 6 months to release the images?

2 answers

Timing really doesn't matter
How would this information have helped you in July of 2006? It's an interesting fact, but is it really need-to now so much that 6 months... 18 months... 5 years... really matters for 99.9% of the population?

Verified science, not pre-released junk
When Scientists release data before they can properly analyze and understand it they can create misunderstandings. The media poorly reports the data, typically just reporting that whatever conclusions MAY be determined by the data are indeed fact. Of course if after a standard analysis this is proven incorrect the media doesn't really care to publish retractions and corrections with the same force and publicity as their previous stories.

Re:Here's a question... (1)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 7 years ago | (#17454476)

I take it you've never published in a peer-reviewed journal before. The raw images [nasa.gov] were probably available, but it takes some careful analysis of all the data to determine what they were seeing, and you want to have those conclusions verified by fellow scientists before announcing it to the world.

Re:Here's a question... (1)

Sigg3.net (886486) | more than 7 years ago | (#17458128)

They had to pick the most compelling texture. DOH!

OK, still the question is unanswered (1, Interesting)

wallet55 (1045366) | more than 7 years ago | (#17453392)

it is good that the liqid question is answered, as liquid methane is somthing that some view as possible environ of life, just as those who believe water on Mars means likely life. The issue though is whether conditions were ever favorable enough, long enough for life to develope. If we establish Titan's parameters, and Mar's parameters, we might come up with some of the values in drakes equation http://www.activemind.com/Mysterious/Topics/SETI/d rake_equation.html [activemind.com] the answeres might not be what we want, however

Re:OK, still the question is unanswered (0)

Ingolfke (515826) | more than 7 years ago | (#17454334)

Huh? You'd have to find life on Mars and Titan to determine those paramters because the paramters are used to plug into a probability formulas for the likelihood of life existing under certain conditions. If you can't prove life exists or existed there how the hell are you supposed to know the conditions can produce life?

Titan by Stephen Baxter (3, Interesting)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 7 years ago | (#17453418)

Re:Titan by Stephen Baxter (1)

monkaduck (902823) | more than 7 years ago | (#17454722)

Yep, that was a great book. Still need to pick up another copy...

Re:first Post? (1)

MarkChovain (952233) | more than 7 years ago | (#17454396)

Dad? Is it really you?

WOW (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17453534)

Those look just like Earth lakes! Titan looks like a nice place to live. Maybe I'll retire there someday.

Liquid methane? Maybe. (0, Troll)

scdeimos (632778) | more than 7 years ago | (#17453554)

From another page [nasa.gov] about this at NASA (emphasis added):

Radar-dark surfaces are smooth and most likely liquid, rock, ice or organics. More than 75 radar-dark patches or lakes were seen, ranging from 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) to more than 70 kilometers (43 miles) across.

The images are blatantly false-colour. The "blue" areas meant to potray liquid (making people think of water) but could just as easily be ice or lava flows.

Re:Liquid methane? Maybe. (4, Informative)

stoicio (710327) | more than 7 years ago | (#17454466)

"The images are blatantly false-colour. The blue areas meant to potray liquid (making people think of water) but could just as easily be ice or lava flows."

Actually the intensity of the backscatter data is what is being shown.
The brightness is logarithmic, therefore anything dark is very smooth
and anything really bright is very bumpy. Since it is a log scale and
there is a good idea what kind of backscatter to absorption ratio to expect
from the synthetic aperture radar for various targets, they can conclude that
the dark patches are glassy/ice-rink flat.

They can also conclude that the dark patches could be liquid based on
change detection, provided they have another series of overlapping data
to compare. If the glassy areas undulate slightly between images (waves)
they are probably liquid.

Having noted this, 500 metres is kind of crappy resolution for
SAR data. You'd think they'd make a closer flyby or put a better
instrument onboard. I believe 1 (one) metre resolution SAR was available
from instruments at the same altitude when cassini was designed.
NASA just cheaped out.

Re:Liquid methane? Maybe. (2, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#17454594)

Having noted this, 500 metres is kind of crappy resolution for
SAR data. You'd think they'd make a closer flyby or put a better
instrument onboard. I believe 1 (one) metre resolution SAR was available
from instruments at the same altitude when cassini was designed.
NASA just cheaped out.


Cheaped out? Cassinni is the most expensive unmanned probe ever launched. I saw a to-scale model in a museum. It is a huge chunk of gadgets. Perhaps you could argue they underemphasized radar power at the expense of something else, but you cannot argue they went cheap.
           

Re:Liquid methane? Maybe. (1)

stoicio (710327) | more than 7 years ago | (#17457868)

"Cheaped out? "

Yeah, that was a bit over the top. Sorry about that.

Cassini is cheap? (1)

amightywind (691887) | more than 7 years ago | (#17457960)

Having noted this, 500 metres is kind of crappy resolution for SAR data. You'd think they'd make a closer flyby or put a better instrument onboard. I believe 1 (one) metre resolution SAR was available from instruments at the same altitude when cassini was designed. NASA just cheaped out.

I have heard Cassini called a Cadillac, Battlestar Galactica,..., but never cheap! Increased spatial resolution won't help you see 50 km diameter lakes any better. The embayment relationships with topography are the same, as is the radar darkness of the lake surface. It might detect tributary streams. I suppose an extremely powerful radar might see waves on the lake surface. Cassini may even be able to detect those locally.

We've already landed there ffs. (4, Informative)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 7 years ago | (#17453672)

Am I the only one who can remember that we put a lander [esa.int] on Titan a good 18 months prior to taking this image? The presence of liquid methane on the surface was confirmed [esa.int] one week later. Nice image, bad caption.

Re:We've already landed there ffs. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17454250)

Yeah, but that was a European probe so it doesn't count. :-)

Re:We've already landed there ffs. (1)

butterwise (862336) | more than 7 years ago | (#17457630)

I thought "European probes" were the electronic eyes that automatically flush the commode when yer done...

"What have you done for us lately?" (1, Interesting)

patio11 (857072) | more than 7 years ago | (#17454340)

If you don't produce a steady stream of non-achievements people might start saying things like "Hey, what did that 3.26 billion dollars (http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/faq/mission.cfm) we just gave you for the Cassini project actually accomplish?" This way, you can say "Hey, the Cassini project CONFIRMED the existence of LIQUID which is almost like WATER which is a prerequisite for LIFE which would be the BIGGEST DISCOVERY EVER."

Re:"What have you done for us lately?" (1)

Slashcrap (869349) | more than 7 years ago | (#17455970)

If you don't produce a steady stream of non-achievements people might start saying things like "Hey, what did that 3.26 billion dollars (http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/faq/mission.cfm) we just gave you for the Cassini project actually accomplish?" This way, you can say "Hey, the Cassini project CONFIRMED the existence of LIQUID which is almost like WATER which is a prerequisite for LIFE which would be the BIGGEST DISCOVERY EVER."

It's too early in the morning to come up with an eloquent and coherent response to your short sighted, small minded yankie bullshit. So I'm just going to content myself with wishing that you die unhappy and unfulfilled, preferably soon.

Re:We've already landed there ffs. (1)

sighted (851500) | more than 7 years ago | (#17454404)

The interesting part of this data is not the mere presence of liquid methane, but the imagery that appears to show entire lakes. Before the Huygens probe landed, many hoped it would see such lakes - or even splash down in one (see this pre-landing article from the ESA [esa.int] , for example). While some evidence suggests Huygens' touch-down point may have once been covered by liquid, the lander didn't see any lakes or oceans directly. So these latest findings just make the overall nature of Titan's 'hydrologic' system more visible. It seems like each pass by Titan that Cassini makes fleshes out the picture a little more.

Re:We've already landed there ffs. (4, Informative)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#17454546)

The lander did *not* detect existing pooled or flowing liquid. The radar evidence appears to be the first evidence of existing pooled/flowing liquid. The lander found plenty of *hints* of erosion typical of that associated with liquid, but it did not detect any active liquid (except maybe methane mist). The area it landed at is often characterized as a "dry lake bed".

[Obligatory] Sirens (1)

spellraiser (764337) | more than 7 years ago | (#17453790)

So, did they finally find the Sirens [amazon.com] ?

Looks like Minnesota (2, Funny)

tinrobot (314936) | more than 7 years ago | (#17453948)

...except Minnesota seems way colder that Titan.

Re:Looks like Minnesota (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#17454386)

Let's hope it smells better

Re:Looks like Minnesota (2, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#17454640)

...except Minnesota seems way colder that Titan.

Don't worry, the Bush administration and Exxon are working hard and diligently to warm it up.
       

Re:Looks like Minnesota (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 7 years ago | (#17454838)

Not this winter.

Its 34f (1c) outside and its after 11pm

Did they spot any fish houses on Titan?

Re:Looks like Minnesota (1)

AaronBrethorst (860210) | more than 7 years ago | (#17455512)

you beat me to it... And I even missed out on the fantastic snowfall you guys had just after Christmas. Sigh, at least it's stopped raining in Seattle for the moment.

Re:Looks like Minnesota (1)

ShannaraFan (533326) | more than 7 years ago | (#17456810)

Apparently you haven't been to Minnesota yet this year. This winter SUCKS!!! It's 6:53am in JANUARY, and it's friggin 35 degrees outside... Damned El Nino...

We, inhabitants of Titan... (1)

Kazymyr (190114) | more than 7 years ago | (#17454024)

... have known it for a long time.

Is it my imagination... (1)

Al Al Cool J (234559) | more than 7 years ago | (#17454222)

... or is the lake near the middle of the picture shaped like a giant fish? No wonder the Face on Mars has vanished, he's gone fishing on Titan!

Well, thats interesting (0, Troll)

patio11 (857072) | more than 7 years ago | (#17454252)

One of the rocks out there might be wet. Possibly. Well, that was 3.26 billion dollars well spent. (http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/faq/mission.cfm)

Jimi Hendrix knew about this 40 years ago! (1)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17454316)

Well my arrows are made of desire
From far away as Jupiters sulphur mines
Say my arrows are made of desire
From far away as Jupiters sulphur mines
(Way down by the Methane Sea)

Bizn1atch (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17454456)

Meomber. GNAA (GAY

Well, it's about time.... (0, Offtopic)

bmo (77928) | more than 7 years ago | (#17454944)

Cue 80's band.... (The Creatures was the best music ever to come out of Siouxie and the Banshees)

PLUTO DRIVE (The Creatures)

Let's go to Pluto, the atmosphere's clear
We'll be really cool there, with nothing to fear
Let's go to Pluto, it's cold and it's damp
Where children are heroes, death is high camp

I want to see Pluto, I want to have fun
I want to turn blue under an alien sun
Oh let me see Pluto, it seems such a gas
With oceans of methane and petrified grass

CHORUS:
Let's go to Pluto
Let's live on the dot
See the bad moon rising
In a lunacy knot

Come on let's do Pluto, it's really not far
An unleaded dream drive to the prettiest star
I want to see Pluto, but maybe I'll wait
'Til the world turns to meet its plutonium fate

The days will be long here, the years will be more
Let's go to Pluto, like we did before

CHORUS:
Let's go to Pluto
Let's live on the dot
See the bad moon rising
In a lunacy knot.

etc.

Halo? (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 7 years ago | (#17455134)

Looks more like to me they found Halo, took it's heightmap data and are trying to say they actually saw something on Titan.
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