Washington, Dec 14 (): NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has spotted a 250-mile river valley, on Saturn’s moon Titan. It appears to be a miniature version of the Nile River. Cassini has flown by Titan several times, making detailed observations of the giant moon.
Scientists believe the river is filled with liquid because it appears dark along its entire extend in the images. Titan’s “water” is not like Earth’s but is liquid methane or natural gas. The liquid filled river goes up to a sea, which is near North Pole of the cold Titan. Titan is known to have vast seas, the only other body in the solar system, apart from our Earth.
The spacecraft sent images which revealed for the first time a this vast river system and in a higher resolution anywhere other than Earth. It was Cassini’s 87th close flyby of Titan since first beginning its exploration of the Saturn system in 2004.
Christian Huygens, the astronomer discovered Titan on March 25, 1655. Titan has a diameter roughly 50% larger than Earth’s moon and is 80% more massive. It is the second largest moon in the Solar System, after Jupiter’s moon Ganymede. The surface temperature of Titan is around -180 degrees Celsius. Due to this temperature, hydrocarbons such as methane and ethane are in a liquid state, and they behave much like water does here on earth. Titan is huge, bigger than the planet Mercury, and has a dense atmosphere made of nitrogen. The latest discovery gives Titan the potential for an earth-like landscape.
Cassini first confirmed the presence of liquid ethane in a lake called Ontario Lacus, in Titan’s southern hemisphere, during its 2008 flyby of the Saturn moon. On July 1, 2004, the Cassini–Huygens space probe performed the SOI (Saturn Orbit Insertion) maneuver and entered into orbit around Saturn.