Saturday, March 3, 2007

Alien World; So Familiar

Upstaged by this week's beauty shots of its parent, Saturn, the largest moon of the same, Titan, continues to reveal wonders truly all its own.

Larger than our own Moon, larger than the first planet, Mercury, this moon of Saturn with its dense atmosphere of Nitrogen - so thick that if you could stand on Titan's surface it would feel like standing on the bottom of a swimming pool - has the only open bodies of liquid, besides Earth, yet discovered. Lakes and lakes of methane. Which means that Titan is also far, far colder than Antarctica. The island in the radar image above is roughly the size of the Big Island of Hawaii. These are some very large bodies of liquid methane.

Drainage streams, valleys, mile-high mountains, volcanoes - cryo-volcanoes, spewing ices - rocks made not of silicates, like here at home, but of water ice, and dunes, dunes, dunes, for thousands of miles.

What a world.

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