Wednesday , March 3 2021

Titan’s largest sea is 1,000 meters deep near its center

Kraken Mother is the largest sea on the surface of Saturn’s moon, Titan. It is a huge body of liquid ethane and methane near the north pole of Titan. The sea covers 154,000 square kilometers.

Cornell astronomers have estimated that the sea will have a depth of at least 1,000 meters near its center.

Data from this discovery were collected at Cassini’s Titan flywheel over Titan on August 21, 2014. The probe’s radar examined Ligeia Mare (a smaller sea in the moon’s north polar region) to mysterious “magic island” that disappears and reappears. which was an earlier discovery by Cornell.

While Cassini was crossing at 13,000 mph, almost 600 miles above the surface of Titan. Using its radar altimeter, the probe measured the depth of the liquid at Kraken Mare and Moray Sinus, an estuary at the northern end of the sea.

Cornell scientists, along with engineers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, had discovered how to discern the bathymetry (depth) of the lake and sea by observing the differences in radar return time at the surface of the liquid and the seabed. as well as the composition of the sea recognizing the amount of radar energy absorbed during transit through the liquid.

Moray’s sine was 280 feet deep, less than the depths of the center of Kraken Mare, too deep for the radar to measure.

Lead author Valerio Poggiali, an associate researcher at the Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science (CCAPS), said: “Beyond the depths, Mother Kraken is also immense, almost the size of the five Great Lakes combined. Titan represents a model environment for a possible early Earth atmosphere. “

“It is important to understand the depth and composition of Kraken Mare and the Moray sine because this allows for a more accurate assessment of Titan’s methane hydrology. Still, we have a lot of mysteries to solve. “

“One of these puzzles is the origin of liquid methane. Titan’s sunlight, about 100 times less intense than on Earth, constantly converts methane from the atmosphere into ethane; for about ten million years, this process would completely deplete Titan’s surface stores. ”

“In the distant future, a submarine (probably without a mechanical engine) will visit and cross Kraken Mare.”

“Thanks to our measurements, scientists can now infer the density of the liquid more accurately and therefore better calibrate the sonar on board the ship and understand the directional flows of the sea.”

Magazine reference:
  1. V. Poggiali et al. The bathymetry of Moray’s breast at Titan’s Kraken Mare. DOI: 10.1029 / 2020JE006558

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