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Specular reflection from Titan's north polar region. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona/DLR.



Titan's Glass Lakes
Dec 28, 2009

Pools of liquid hydrocarbons are said to exist on the surface of Titan.

On July 8, 2009, the Cassini-Equinox spacecraft detected a flash of reflected light from Titan. Since the mission team had been speculating about methane lakes on Titan for some time before launch, and since early images from Cassini seemed to show expanses of liquid on its surface, the latest images are said to "confirm" that speculation.

It was in January of 2005 that the Huygens probe successfully landed on the frigid moon. Mission specialists had previously setup a sensor on the bottom of the 319 kilogram capsule, so that when it touched down an indication of the landing zone's composition could be established. Prior to launch, the sensor was plunged into a variety of substances, including liquids and ices, and those results were then programmed into the software. One of the substances was sand.

Images transmitted from the giant moon's surface revealed a rocky landscape with the consistency of damp sand. A field of small pebbles extended to the horizon. Spectrographic analysis established that the "rocks" are made of water ice. It is easy to understand how ice can appear to be like rock when it is at a temperature of - 179 Celsius. What Huygens did not detect was liquids of any kind.

No methane droplets were falling from the clouds. In fact, there was no precipitation of any kind, and no pools of methane were visible within its field of view. Instead, orbital images confirmed a dry surface where dunes several meters high march across the terrain in parallel rows.

In the image at the top of the page, the Cassini-Equinox orbiter detected an infrared reflection from an area known as Kraken Mare ("Monster Ocean") that covers more than 400,000 square kilometers in Titan's north polar region. Is Kraken Mare really a lake larger than Earth's Lake Superior?

Cassini has also returned images of “riverbeds” that seem to flow into several of the presumed methane lakes, including Kraken Mare. As was noted in a previous Picture of the Day, the lakes on Titan are similar to the “maria” of our own Moon. Moreover, every brachiated channel on Titan is dry; they all have dark, flat floors, with no evidence of flowing liquids. Coupled with the observation that Titan's Kraken Mare resembles Mare Serenitatis more than it does Lake Superior, the same rilles are present on Titan as on the Moon.

In previous Picture of the Day articles about the Moon, "sinuous rilles" were identified as the scars left by plasma discharges of immense proportions. Practically every body in the Solar System, other than the gas giant planets, exhibit such rille structures. The ice moon Europa, the inferno-like moon Io, the most remote planetary moon Triton, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Earth—without exception there are steep-walled, meandering, flat-floored canyon formations everywhere our instruments look.

Electric Universe advocate Wal Thornhill observed that the images from Cassini are "...typical of arc machining of the surface. I would compare them directly to the scalloped scarring on Jupiter’s moon Io and the flat, melted floor depressions that result. Such floors would be expected to give a dark radar return.”

The fact that the "lakes" are also close by the vast dune fields in the polar regions suggests an electrical origin sometime in the past. It is in the southern and northern latitudes of Titan that they are found. Since electrical activity has been shown to have carved the surface of other rocky bodies, why would it come as a surprise to find that it has also been at work on Titan? It is a distinct probability that the infrared light seen by Cassini was reflected by the hard, glassified crust left by an interplanetary plasma discharge.

Stephen Smith




"The Cosmic Thunderbolt"

YouTube video, first glimpses of Episode Two in the "Symbols of an Alien Sky" series.


And don't forget: "The Universe Electric"

Three ebooks in the Universe Electric series are now available. Consistently praised for easily understandable text and exquisite graphics.

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Authors David Talbott and Wallace Thornhill introduce the reader to an age of planetary instability and earthshaking electrical events in ancient times. If their hypothesis is correct, it could not fail to alter many paths of scientific investigation.
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Professor of engineering Donald Scott systematically unravels the myths of the "Big Bang" cosmology, and he does so without resorting to black holes, dark matter, dark energy, neutron stars, magnetic "reconnection", or any other fictions needed to prop up a failed theory.
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In language designed for scientists and non-scientists alike, authors Wallace Thornhill and David Talbott show that even the greatest surprises of the space age are predictable patterns in an electric universe.
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