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Old 06-07-2010, 07:51 PM
Franc Tireur Franc Tireur is offline
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Surface of Saturn's biggest moon may be floating on massive underground ocean

A vast ocean of water and ammonia may lurk deep beneath the surface of Saturn's biggest moon Titan, atronomers believe.
The whole crust of the moon, bigger than the planet Mercury, may be afloat on this subterranean sea.
Although no ocean has been seen directly, observations made by the Cassini spacecraft suggest that one may exist - perhaps 60 miles under the moon's surface.

The suspicion has been raised by the bizarre fact that landmarks mapped early on by Cassini turn out to have moved by the time more recent observations were made.
The spacecraft, exploring Saturn and its moons in an ongoing European-U.S. mission, collected measurements using radar that penetrated Titan's thick orange clouds during 19 flights over the moon from October 2005 to May 2007.
Early radar observations revealed the locations of 50 landmarks including lakes, canyons and mountains through the thick clouds shrouding Titan's surface.
But scientists examining later radar data discovered that prominent surface features had shifted location by up to 19 miles.

The spin of Titan's crust is linked to winds blowing through its atmosphere, the scientists say in a report in the journal Science.

But the type of broad displacement of surface features seen on Titan would be hard to explain unless its crust were separated from its core by an internal ocean, allowing the crust essentially to float.

"It's because Titan's crust seems to be so mobile that we infer this internal ocean," said Ralph Lorenz of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Maryland, US, who led the study.
Mr Lorenz said this ocean was probably mostly water with "a few percent" ammonia.

Scientists have previously found evidence suggesting there may be underground oceans on other moons in the solar system including Jupiter's Europa, Callisto and Ganymede and Saturn's Enceladus.
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Old 06-07-2010, 11:02 PM
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Jim Gillum Jim Gillum is offline
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Guess I'll have to cancel next weeks trip......
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