Cassini Spies Bright Features in Kraken Mare Possibly Related to “Magic Island” Observed in Ligeia Mare

Space scientists think could be floating debris or waves on the seas of Saturn’s moon Titan 

Cassini radar data reveal the depth of a liquid methane/ethane sea on Saturn's moon Titan near the mouth of a large, flooded river valley. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI/Cornell
Cassini radar data reveal the depth of a liquid methane/ethane sea on Saturn’s moon Titan near the mouth of a large, flooded river valley. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI/Cornell

Space news (November 18, 2014) – Sailing over Titan’s moons – 

Cassini sailed over Saturn’s moon Titan on August 21, 2014, to take a first look at the depths near the opening of a huge river valley along the eastern shore of Titan’s largest sea Kraken Mare. NASA space scientists collected data along a 120-mile shore-to-shore track of the hydrocarbon sea. One part of this track collected altimetry data along a 25-mile section indicating sea depths in this region of 66 to 115 feet (20 – 35 meters). This involves Cassini’s radar bouncing a beam off the bottom of Kraken Mare to determine an estimate of the depth in the region.

During this 25-mile section of the 120-mile track across Kraken Mare Cassini’s radar and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) detected bright features in the sea space scientists think could be similar to another bright, mystery feature previously observed in another of Titan’s seas, Ligeia Mare, researchers have called “Magic Island”. Detecting the features using both instruments gives scientists a better look and idea of the identity of these enigmatic features.

Space scientists at this time think these unknown features observed by Cassini’s instruments could be waves, floating debris or something else entirely. Unfortunately, it may be awhile before we know anything more about the bright features observed in Kraken Mare since this is the last chance for the spacecraft to observed the region.

Cassini will fly by Titan once again in January 2015, to take a closer look at the original feature spied in Ligeia Mare. At this time they’ll also attempt to measure the sea depth of Punga Mare, the only large sea in Titan’s far north Cassini hasn’t observed.

You can find more information on Cassini and its mission to observe the seas of Saturn’s moon Titan here.

For more information on NASA and its space mission go here.

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NASA’s Cassini Orbiter Captures Images of Methane Clouds Moving Over Northern Seas of Saturn’s Moon Titan

NASA's Cassini Orbiter tracks methane clouds moving over Titan's northern seas Ligeia Mare
NASA’s Cassini Orbiter tracks methane clouds moving over Titan’s northern seas Ligeia Mare

Methane clouds over northern seas could signal arrival of summer storms

Space news (the solar system: Saturn; Titan) – looking for evidence of clouds moving over surface of Saturn’s moon Titan –

Planetary space scientists have been looking for evidence of clouds moving over the northern hydrocarbon seas of Saturn’s moon Titan for awhile. Their planetary models of Titan predicted the movement of clouds over the northern seas, which should signal the arrival of summer storms. Near the end of July, they were provided with the proof they require in the form of images of methane clouds moving at 7 to 10 mph across the sky above the hydrocarbon seas of Titan’s northern sea Ligeia Mare. You can watch a movie showing the movement of clouds over the northern seas of Titan here.

NASA's Cassini Orbiter captured images of clouds active over the northern seas of Titan
NASA’s Cassini Orbiter captured images of clouds active over the northern seas of Titan

“We’re eager to find out if the clouds’ appearance signals the beginning of summer weather patterns, or if it is an isolated occurrence,” said Elizabeth Turtle, a Cassini imaging team associate at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, Maryland. “Also, how are the clouds related to the seas? Did Cassini just happen to catch them over the seas, or do they form preferentially?”

Work continues for the team

Planetary scientists will continue to watch and study seasonal changes on Saturn’s moon Titan in order to learn more about the weather systems on other worlds and our own. This will be a job requiring patience, because a year on Titan is equivalent to 30 years on Earth, and each season lasts around seven years.

You can find additional information on NASA’s Cassini Solstice Space Mission here.

You can find more information on the Cassini Orbiter Space here.

 

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