Apr 16, 2019

Methane rains down on Saturn's mysterious moon Titan

Miriam Kramer, author of Space

Titan as seen by Cassini. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/University of Idaho

Saturn's moon Titan is eerily familiar and yet wholly unlike our own.

The cosmic picture: The large moon boasts a hazy atmosphere and rains methane onto its surface. Now, thanks to the long-dead Cassini spacecraft, we know that some of its lakes are more than 300 feet deep.

Background: Cassini gathered groundbreaking data on Saturn and its moons, including making a dive through the planet's rings and into its atmosphere in the final moments of its mission.

  • The spacecraft flew past Titan in April 2017, when it observed the lakes, and scientists are still analyzing the treasure-trove of data it gathered and transmitted back to Earth.

What they're saying: "Every time we make discoveries on Titan, Titan becomes more and more mysterious," Marco Mastrogiuseppe, lead author of the new Titan study, said in a statement.

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