A new study has found that rivers and tributaries on Saturn’s moon “Titan” could help NASA’s upcoming mission to the moon learn more about its geology and whether it is capable of supporting life.
The astronomers, led by a team at Cornell University, looked at Titan’s map of the rivers and tributaries, and decided that the river’s shapes could give additional information about how deep they go or what happened in the area.
They also found that the images they used to study Titan likely reduced the intensity of the drainage, which may show how it worked on the distant moon.
Study co-author, Alex Hayes, said in a statement: statment Channel systems are at the heart of Titan’s sediment transport pathways. It provides an explanation of how organic matter is oriented around Titan’s surface, and identifies locations where matter may be concentrated near tectonic features or perhaps even volcanoes.
And in 2018, scientists found evidence of a 4,000-mile-wide “ice corridor” on Titan, which could be evidence of ancient volcanic activity.
Given that Titan is the only place in the Solar System known to have liquids (other than Earth) at the surface, understanding how rivers work is essential to understanding the sediment transport system and the geology of the Moon.
“Moreover, these materials can be sent down the inner ocean of Titan’s liquid water, or mixed with liquid water that is carried to the surface,” Hayes added.
The researchers studied the “Titan” rivers by looking at ground-based radar images of rivers in places such as Alaska, Quebec and Pilbara in Western Australia.
They compared it to radar images taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft of the moon, before it deliberately plunged itself into Saturn in September 2017.
In doing so, they were able to understand the limitations of the Cassini data set and what would likely need further study before the Dragonfly expedition.
Julia Miller, the study’s lead author, said: “Although the quality and quantity of Cassini images, [الرادار ذي الفتحة الاصطناعية] It places significant limits on its usefulness in examining river systems, and it can still be used to understand Titan’s landscape at a fundamental level.”
It is well known that Titan has a Martian-like landscape, as scientists mapped the icy moon in 2019 (using data from the Cassini spacecraft), revealing a landscape filled with mountains, lakes, plains, craters, valleys, and “maze terrain.”
And unlike Earth, Titan’s liquids exist in the form of methane and ethane, not water.
Lakes of methane can be more than 300 feet deep in some parts of Titan, especially in the arctic.
However, Titan, the second largest moon in the solar system after Ganymede, is well known for having a thick crust made of water ice.
Gaining a greater understanding of Titan’s hydrologic system could provide astronomers with insight into how it differs from the Earth’s system.
“Examination of Titan’s hydrological system sets a striking example comparable to Earth’s hydrological system – the only example in which we can actively see how the planetary landscape is evolving in the absence of vegetation,” Hayes added.
Dragonfly was originally scheduled to launch in 2026, but the “Covid-19” epidemic has postponed the launch date to 2027.
The study was published in the journal . Planetary sciences.
Source: Daily Mail
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