Large Tides Have Been Found on Saturn’s Moon Titan.

June 28, 2012 Titan’s Tides Point to Hidden Ocean: Nothing like it has been seen before beyond our own planet: large tides have been found on Saturn’s moon Titan that point to a liquid ocean – most likely water – swirling around below the surface.

On Earth, we are familiar with the combined gravitational effects of the Moon and Sun creating the twice-daily tidal rise and fall of our oceans. Less obvious are the tides of a few tens of centimeters in our planet’s crust and underlying mantle, which floats on a liquid core. But now the international Cassini mission to Saturn has found that Titan experiences large tides in its surface.

“The important implication of the large tides is that there is a highly deformable layer inside Titan, very likely water, able to distort Titan’s surface by more than 10 meters,” says Luciano Iess of the Università La Sapienza in Rome, lead of author of the paper published in Science magazine.

If the moon were rigid all the way through, then tides of only one meter would be expected. The tides were discovered by carefully tracking Cassini’s path as the probe made six close flybys of Saturn’s largest moon between 2006 and 2011.

Titan orbits Saturn in an elliptical path once every 16 days, changing shape with the varying pull of its parent’s gravity – at its closest point, it is stretched into a rugby-ball shape.

Titan’s gravity pulls on Cassini and the moon’s changing shape affects its trajectory slightly differently on each visit, revealed by tiny differences in the frequency of radio signals received from the spacecraft back at Earth.

“We know from other Cassini instruments that the surface of Titan is made of water ice mostly covered with a layer of organic molecules – the water ocean may also be doped with other ingredients, including ammonia or ammonium sulphate,” underlines Dr. Iess.

“Although our measurements do not tell anything about the depth of the ocean, models suggest that it may be up to 250 km deep beneath an ice shell some 50 km thick.”

This also goes some way to explaining the puzzle of why Titan has so much methane in its atmosphere, which given its naturally short lifetime must be replenished somehow.

“We know that the reservoirs of methane in Titan’s surface hydrocarbon lakes are not enough to explain the large quantities in the atmosphere, but an ocean could act as a deep reservoir,” explains Dr. Iess.

“This is the first time Cassini has shown the presence of an ocean below Titan’s surface, providing an important clue as to how Titan ‘works’, while also pointing to another place in the Solar System where liquid water is abundant,” says Nicolas Altobelli, ESA’s Cassini project scientist. (Credit: ESA Space Science).

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Disaster researcher and current financial and economic news and events: Accidents, economics, financial, news, nature, volcanoes, floods, earthquakes, fires; airplane, ship & train wrecks; tornadoes, mine cave-ins, hurricanes, pestilence, blizzards, storms, tzuami's, explosions, pollution, famine; heat & cold waves; nuclear accidents, drought, stampedes and general. Futures trader using high volume and open interest futures markets. Also, a financial, weather and mundane astrologer with over 30 years of experience. Three University degrees from California State University Northridge: BS - Accounting MS - Busines Administration BA - Psychology Served in the U. S. Army as an Armored Platoon Leader in the 5th Battalion, 68th Armored Regiment, 8th Infantry Division (Retired). Have published three books and 36 articles available for sale through my blog: Commodology - Secret of Soyobeans (Financial Astrology) Timing is the Key (Financial Astrology) Scum City, a fiction novel (no longer available, under contract to major publisher) Currently resident of Las Vegas, NV, USA
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1 Response to Large Tides Have Been Found on Saturn’s Moon Titan.

  1. PuterMan says:

    “Less obvious are the tides of a few tens of centimeters in our planet’s crust and underlying mantle”

    This is a particularly interesting point and one I have looked at in the past. Of the order of around 55mm twice a day this is a massive flexing of the crust and one that is not taken into account by many as a potential trigger of earthquakes. Whilst it is difficult to pin-point lunar influence on earthquakes, undoubtedly the additional flexing of a full moon must exacerbate weakened or stuck faults. Crustal movement of this amount just show what the enormous effects of gravity are when you consider the volume of material that is being ‘moved’.

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