NASA epic Cassini Mission Saturn is still generating valuable scientific data more than three years after its demise.
Data from one of the last flybys of the spacecraft Titan, A large moon with life chemistry precursors, discovers that a massive lake on the surface called the Kraken Mare is more than 1,000 feet (300 m) deep – roughly equal to the height of New York City’s Chrysler Building. In fact, the lake is so deep that Cassini’s radar cannot probe all the way down.
In 2014, preliminary data from this flyby suggested that The Kraken mare was at least 115 feet (35 m) deep, but extended further; The newly released results show that the lake is about 10 times deeper than that initial estimate.
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Researchers said that the depth and composition of the Kraken Ghora would gradually become more and more about the mysterious chemistry of Titan dominated by ethane and methane. The lake’s importance stems from the sheer size of the Kraken mare; If placed on Earth, it would cover all the great lakes of North America.
“Crank mare … is not only a great name, but it contains about 80% of the lunar surface fluids,” the study’s lead author, Valerio Pogiali, a research associate at the Cornell University Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science Huh. The university said in a statement.
While Titan’s chemistry is alien compared to Earth, the geography of the moon is reminiscent of swampy or lake-rich regions on our planet. Titan is the only known moon in our solar system to boast A dense atmosphere – A gaseous nitrogen shroud compared to most nitrogen-oxygen environments of the Earth.
This sets Titan apart from ten moons in our solar system, from the tenospheres or any atmosphere (such as the Earth’s moon). A “icy moon” suited to potential life where water ice covers an inner ocean – such as Jupiter’s Europa or Saturn’s Enceladus, which both bombard water through ice in space.
Three years ago about engineers, data was collected on the Cassini mine on 21 August 2014 during Titan’s 104th flyby. Deliberately threw the spacecraft into Saturn To avoid the small possibility of accidentally contaminating the lunar surface.
The Kraken mare was one of the lakes on the survey list of missions for that flyby. Researcher also wanted to see Ligeia Mare – Site of a mystery ”Magic island“It regularly appears and disappears – and a small estuary called More’s Sinus, which the researchers estimated to be 280 feet (85 m) deep, equal to the height of the Statue of Liberty. Cassini’s moon. Tested the surface with its radar altimeter. 600 miles (965 kilometers) away.
Scientists calculate the depth of the ocean and find out how long it took for the radar to bounce back from the liquid surface and from the ocean floor, comparing the difference between these depths and taking into account the composition of the lakes’ liquid, whatever Absorbs radar signal energy.
The creation of the Kraken Mare surprised scientists, as well as its depth. It contains a mixture of methane and ethane, which differs from previous models, suggesting that ethane would prevail due to the lake’s size and geographical location from the lunar poles. According to the researchers, understanding the rain cycle on Titan could help scientists better understand the unpredictable chemistry in the lake.
Scientists also hope to find out where liquid methane originates on Titan. Titan receives about 100 times less energy from the Sun than the Earth, because it is about 10 times farther away.
With available sunlight, Titan converts methane into ethane in its atmosphere, but current models suggest that the moon must cycle through all cycles of methane on its surface in just 10 million years, a lifetime of 4.5. -Billian is a small fraction of the year. our solar system.
Engineers are working on a submarine concept, which if funded and approved by NASA, Could have been launched in the 2030s to collapse Titan’s lakes. Poggiiali said Cassini’s new analysis could help engineers “better test the onboard sonar and understand the directional flow of the ocean.”
There was a study based on research Published in december, In Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets.
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