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Cassini Spacecraft Discovers Flooded Canyons on Titan

Aug 11, 2016 01:08 AM EDT
Cassini Spacecraft Reveals Titan Surface Details
Recent study suggest that the canyons spotted on the surface of Titan may still be "flooded" with liquid material.
(Photo : NASA via Getty Images)

NASA's Cassini spacecraft beamed back another interesting image from one of Saturn's moon. Titan is once again the center of discussion as Cassini discovered that there are deep, "steep-sided" and flooded canyons on Saturn's moon, Titan.

The canyons appear to be flooded with liquid hydrocarbons. This recent discovery is an evidence of the "liquid-filled" channels on Titan, according to a report. This also serves as the first visual observation of the hundred-meter-deep canyons of Titan.

The study was published in the Geophysical Research Letters and it enumerates the processes that allowed scientists to study Cassini's data from passing by closely to Saturn's moon Titan in 2013. Cassini was the focused on the canyons on the surface of Titan in the northern sea Ligeia Mare.

Based on the findings, it was revealed that Vid Flumina, or the channels are narrow canyons in Titan. They measure less than half a mile wide and with 40 degrees steep slopes.

The canyons appear to be branching out and some experts suggest that the channels may still contain liquid. But until now, there is no direct evidence to prove the theory. Scientists are still debating whether the dark channels are filled with liquid or mere saturated sediments that can also be in the form of ice.

Some key factors will have to be understood so that scientists can further observe and understand the images. For example, the presence of glint can mean that the surfaces of the channels could be smooth. While some other physical factors can suggest the depth of the channels.

Deep cuts in the terrain can also aid scientists in identifying when the process occurred on the surface of Titan. "It's likely that a combination of these forces contributed to the formation of the deep canyons, but at present it's not clear to what degree each was involved. What is clear is that any description of Titan's geological evolution needs to be able to explain how the canyons got there," Valerio Poggiali of the University of Rome, a Cassini radar team associate and lead author of the study said in a press release.

But scientists will have to see physical water evidence to confirm whether or not the canyons are filled with liquid substance today.


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