Methane storms might occur on Titan

Jul 27, 2006
First images from Titan

University of the Basque Country researchers in Spain say they believe methane storms are common on Saturn's moon Titan.

The detailed exploration of Titan with space missions began a couple of years ago and the presence of bright polar clouds and dry riverbeds has intrigued astronomers since.

Ricardo Hueso and Agustin Sanchez-Lavega from the planetary sciences group at the university's engineering school say they believe the clouds and dry beds are due to giant storms of methane.

Titan is the largest satellite of the planet and the only moon in the system with an atmosphere dense in nitrogen, similar to that of the Earth.

The astronomers posit huge clouds of methane vapor form storms on Titan's surface, with the hydrocarbon compound playing a similar role to that of water on Earth. The scientists calculate such storms, which can reach heights of about 22 miles, produce dense clouds of methane and copious precipitation from the gaseous compound.

The precipitation, the researchers believe, generates accumulations and rivers of liquid methane, producing the canals that have been observed on the moon.

The research appears in the July issue of the journal Nature.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

Explore further: An unprecedented view of two hundred galaxies of the local universe

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cassini tracks clouds developing over a Titan sea

Aug 12, 2014

(Phys.org) —NASA's Cassini spacecraft recently captured images of clouds moving across the northern hydrocarbon seas of Saturn's moon Titan. This renewed weather activity, considered overdue by researchers, ...

Scientists discover storms in the tropics of Titan

Aug 12, 2009

For all its similarities to Earth -- clouds that pour rain (albeit liquid methane not liquid water) onto the surface producing lakes and rivers, vast dune fields in desert-like regions, plus a smoggy orange ...

Warm US West, cold East: A 4,000-year pattern

Apr 16, 2014

Last winter's curvy jet stream pattern brought mild temperatures to western North America and harsh cold to the East. A University of Utah-led study shows that pattern became more pronounced 4,000 years ago, ...

Big weather on hot Jupiters

May 27, 2013

Among the hundreds of new planets discovered by NASA's Kepler spacecraft are a class of exotic worlds known as "hot Jupiters." Unlike the giant planets of our own solar system, which remain at a safe distance ...

Recommended for you

The origins of local planetary orbits

17 hours ago

A plutino is an asteroid-sized body that orbits the Sun in a 2:3 resonance with Neptune. They are named after Pluto, which also orbits the Sun twice for every three orbits of Neptune. It is thought that Pluto ...

Wild ducks take flight in open cluster

17 hours ago

The Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile has taken this beautiful image, dappled with blue stars, of one of the most star-rich open clusters currently ...

Image: The Pillars of Creation

18 hours ago

The Pillars of Creation (seen above) is an image of a portion of the Eagle nebula (M16) taken by Hubble Space Telescope in 1995. It soon became one of the most iconic space images of all time. The Eagle nebula ...

User comments : 0