The NASA probe found that Saturn’s largest moon has small, deep lakes filled with methane.
Some background: Titan is the only known body in our solar system other than Earth with a liquid on its surface. But rather than a water cycle, it has a methane and ethane cycle.
The news: Researchers used radar data collected during one of Cassini’s fly-bys in 2017. The team discovered that in addition to the known larger northern seas, the moon’s smaller lakes are also filled with methane, and at least one is more than 100 meters (~330 feet) deep. The team also found “phantom lakes” that fill and empty periodically.
Another surprise was finding that these smaller lakes are found at high elevations on top of hills and plateaus. “Every time we make discoveries on Titan, Titan becomes more and more mysterious,” said lead author Marco Mastrogiuseppe in a press release. “But these new measurements help give an answer to a few key questions. We can actually now better understand the hydrology of Titan.” The research was published in Nature Astronomy on Monday.
What it means: The odd shape and depth of the lakes are providing evidence that they may have formed when bedrock made of ice and solid organics chemically dissolved and collapsed.
Want to keep up to date with space tech news? Sign up for our space newsletter, The Airlock.
DeepMind’s cofounder: Generative AI is just a phase. What’s next is interactive AI.
“This is a profound moment in the history of technology,” says Mustafa Suleyman.
What to know about this autumn’s covid vaccines
New variants will pose a challenge, but early signs suggest the shots will still boost antibody responses.
Human-plus-AI solutions mitigate security threats
With the right human oversight, emerging technologies like artificial intelligence can help keep business and customer data secure
Next slide, please: A brief history of the corporate presentation
From million-dollar slide shows to Steve Jobs’s introduction of the iPhone, a bit of show business never hurt plain old business.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.