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Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, it is the only place in the solar system, besides Earth, with a dense atmosphere and liquid stable on its surface. Covered by rivers and seas of liquid methane, intrigue to the scientists, that even they plan to send up to there for a submarine to investigate its mysterious basin. Now, astronomers from Cornell University have estimated that Kraken Mare, the largest sea of this world, has near its centre to at least 300 metres deep, enough space to submerge the Eiffel Tower of Paris, and, what is much more interesting, explore it a contraption robotic.
After examining the data of one of the recent flybys of the Cassini mission on Titan, the researchers detailed their findings in a study published in the “Journal of Geophysical Research”.
“The depth and composition of each one of the seas of Titan have already been measured, except the greatest sea, Kraken Mare, which not only has a great name, but it also contains around 80% of the liquid from the surface of this moon,” says Valerio Poggiali, a researcher at the Centre for Astrophysics and Planetary Sciences from Cornell (CCAPS) and lead author of the report
The icy Titan is shrouded in a mist, golden of gaseous nitrogen. But looking through the clouds, the lunar landscape has an appearance similar to that of Earth, with rivers, lakes and seas of liquid methane, according to NASA.
The data for this finding were collected in the flight Q104 Cassini on 21 August 2014. The radar of the spacecraft considered Ligeia Mare, a sea is smaller in the polar region north of the Moon, to search for the mysterious “Magic Island” that disappeared and reappeared.
While Cassini sailed 21,000 km per hour to almost a thousand kilometers above the surface of Titan, the spacecraft used its radar altimeter to measure the depth of the liquid in Kraken Mare and Moray Sinus, an estuary located at the north end of the sea. The scientists of Cornell, together with the engineers of the jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) of NASA, had discovered how to discern the bathymetry (depth) of the lake and the sea to observe the differences in time of return of the radar on the liquid surface and the bottom of the sea, as well as the composition of the sea by recognizing the amount of energy of the radar is absorbed during transit through the liquid.
the origin of The methane
it Turns out that Moray Sinus has about 85 meters in depth, less than the depths of the center of Kraken Mare, which was too deep for the radar could measure it, so we deduce that you have at least 300 metres. Surprisingly, the composition of the liquid, mainly a mixture of ethane and methane, was dominated by methane and was similar to the composition of the near Ligeia Mare, the second greatest sea of Titan.
Antoriormente had speculated that Kraken could be more rich in ethane, both for its size as for its extension to lower latitudes of the moon. According to scientists, the observation that the composition liquid is not markedly different from the other seas of the north is an important finding that will help to evaluate models of the hydrological system similar to the Land of Titan.
An enigma is the origin of the methane liquid. The sunlight of Titan, about 100 times less intense that that of the Earth, continually converts the methane from the atmosphere in ethane. During periods of approximately 10 million years ago, this process would deplete completely the reserves of the surface of Titan, according to Poggiali.
The researcher believes that in the distant future, a submarine, probably without a mechanical engine, will sail for Kraken Mare. “Thanks to our measurements, she notes, scientists can now infer the density of the liquid with greater precision, and, in consequence, to calibrate better the sound to board the boat and understand the flow directional of the sea”.
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