Cassini sheds light on Titan's second largest lake, Ligeia Mare

Mar 11, 2014

Saturn's second largest moon, Titan, is known for its dense, planet-like atmosphere and large lakes most likely made of methane and ethane. It has been suggested that Titan's atmosphere and surface is a model of early Earth. Since the early 2000s, NASA's Cassini space probe has been unlocking secrets of the distant moon.

The most recent Cassini flyby of Titan on 23 May 2013 reveals new observations of Ligeia Mare, Titan's second largest lake, and offers insight into weather patterns and the of the surrounding terrain. Zebker et al. used radar data to determine that the surface of the lake is flat, ruling out the presence of waves or wind in the region. Other measurements, consistent with previous observations, suggest that Ligeia Mare is most likely composed of .

They also find that the surrounding solid terrain is most likely made of solid organic material and not water ice. The authors suggest that these findings not only help scientists to better understand Titan's surface dynamics, but also reveal best practices for how to infer features from remotely sensed data.

Explore further: Curiosity rover adjusts route up Martian mountain

More information: Surface of Ligeia Mare, Titan, from Cassini altimeter and radiometer analysis, Geophysical Research Letters, DOI: 10.1002/2013GL058877 , 2013.

Related Stories

Cassini nears 100th Titan flyby with a look back

Mar 06, 2014

(Phys.org) —Ten years ago, we knew Titan as a fuzzy orange ball about the size of Mercury. We knew it had a nitrogen atmosphere—the only known world with a thick nitrogen atmosphere besides Earth. But ...

Titan's methane: Going, going, soon to be gone?

Apr 16, 2013

(Phys.org) —By tracking a part of the surface of Saturn's moon Titan over several years, NASA's Cassini mission has found a remarkable longevity to the hydrocarbon lakes on the moon's surface.

Cassini suggests icing on a Titan lake

Jan 08, 2013

(Phys.org)—It's not exactly icing on a cake, but it could be icing on a lake. A new paper by scientists on NASA's Cassini mission finds that blocks of hydrocarbon ice might decorate the surface of existing ...

Cassini sees Saturn and moons in holiday dress

Dec 23, 2013

(Phys.org) —This holiday season, feast your eyes on images of Saturn and two of its most fascinating moons, Titan and Enceladus, in a care package from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. All three bodies are dressed ...

Recommended for you

New project aims to establish a human colony on Mars

9 minutes ago

MarsPolar, a newly started international venture is setting its sights on the Red Planet. The project consisting of specialists from Russia, United Arab Emirates, Poland, U.S. and Ukraine has come up with a bol ...

Ceres bright spots sharpen but questions remain

20 hours ago

The latest views of Ceres' enigmatic white spots are sharper and clearer, but it's obvious that Dawn will have to descend much lower before we'll see crucial details hidden in this overexposed splatter of ...

Rosetta's view of a comet's "great divide"

21 hours ago

The latest image to be revealed of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko comes from October 27, 2014, before the Philae lander even departed for its surface. Above we get a view of a dramatically-shadowed cliff ...

How long will our spacecraft survive?

21 hours ago

There are many hazards out there, eager to disrupt and dismantle the mighty machines we send out into space. How long can they survive to perform their important missions?

Why roundworms are ideal for space studies

21 hours ago

Humans have long been fascinated by the cosmos. Ancient cave paintings show that we've been thinking about space for much of the history of our species. The popularity of recent sci-fi movies suggest that ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.