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Posted by on Jun 29, 2012 in Science |

NASA suspects a subsurface ocean on a moon of Saturn

NASA suspects a subsurface ocean on a moon of Saturn

The spacecraft gave some evidence to suggest that there is a layer of liquid beneath the surface of Titan, a moon of the planet.

The researchers found that the moon is contracting and expanding as it orbited Saturn. If were just rock, Saturn’s gravitational pull would cause bumps of about 1 meter high. However, there have been formations that protrude up to 10 meters, which suggests that not only rocks present. The research was published in the journal Science.

The observation “leads to the almost inescapable conclusion that there is a hidden deep ocean,” said Luciano IESS, author of the paper and Cassini researcher in Italy. “The search for water is an important goal in exploring the solar system, and now we have found another place where it is abundant,” he said.

Titan has an orbit of 16 days, and by Cassini showed that its shape changes slightly depending on the location of the orbit in which it is. The probe measured gravity variations produced on the moon. An ocean layer need not be large or deep to create these tides. As the surface of Titan is largely ice, which is abundant in many moons in the solar system, scientists believe that ocean that is under the solid surface is probably water.

On Earth, the ocean tides are caused by the attraction of the moon and sun generated by drawing the water. In the open oceans, these tides reach 60 cm high. Although water is easier to move the rock, the gravity of the sun and the moon cause the crust to rise by up to 50 cm.

The water to exist on Titan does not mean life, but scientists believe there is more likelihood that it is generated when water is in contact with rock. However, to date we can not see inside the moon so you can determine exactly what is beneath the bark.

The existence of water also raises questions about how Titan methane stored within it, a mystery that has not been resolved yet. The presence of water and possibly ammonia may help explain this phenomenon.

Link: Cassini Finds Saturn likely subsurface ocean on moon (NASA)

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