seas and lakes of Titan
The Cassini spacecraft, in orbit around Saturn, has returned remarkable pictures, using both radar and infrared imagery, of large bodies of liquid on Saturn's largest moon, Titan. These images reveal what appear to be lakes and seas of liquid methane and ethane, most notably in Titan's north polar region. The Cassini image above shows a feature on Titan that covers at least 100,000 square kilometers (39,000 square miles), which is greater in extent than Lake Superior (82,000 square kilometers or 32,000 square miles) – one of Earth's largest lakes. The feature covers a greater fraction of Titan than the largest terrestrial inland sea, the Black Sea. Whereas the Black Sea covers 0.085 percent of Earth's surface, the observed body on Titan covers at least 0.12 percent of Titan's surface. Because of its size, scientists have referred to it as a sea.
While there is no definitive proof yet that the dark, lake- and sea-like features on Titan contain liquid, their shape, their dark appearance in radar that indicates smoothness, and their other properties point to the presence of liquids. The liquids are probably a combination of methane and ethane, given the conditions on Titan and the abundance of methane and ethane gases and clouds in Titan's atmosphere.
Titan is the only world in the Solar System, other Earth, on which large bodies of liquid are though to exist on the surface, although several worlds, including Europa and possibly Titan itself, are suspected of harboring subterranean reservoirs of liquid.
Related categories PLANETS AND MOONS
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