If you thought only earth was lucky enough to be blessed with seas and lakes, then think again. Many planets have their versions of “water bodies” even though it may not be water that forms these liquid bodies. One such space rock to host a number of liquid structures is Saturn’s moon Titan. In latest data released by researchers, they have revealed that the largest sea on the moon, Kraken Mare, is over 1,000 feet deep.
NASA is always in search of planets and moons to find traces of water. Though H2O is hard to find, the agency has found lakes and oceans made with a variety of liquid chemicals on some planets. Saturn was the focus of NASA’s Cassini spacecraft that made a few flybys around the moon Titan. It was a collaboration between NASA, European Space Agency, and Italian Space Agency to research the planet, its moons, and its rings.
While the mission ended in 2017, the vast amount of data accumulated by the craft is still being sifted through and analysed. According to NASA, most of the rivers and lakes on Titan are liquid methane.
In a previous release, they revealed that there were a number of lakes, rivers and seas of hydrocarbons on the moon’s surface. Hydrocarbons are compounds made of hydrogen and carbon, mostly found in petroleum and natural gas on Earth.
According to the latest study, Kraken Mare contains 80% of the moon's surface liquids. The size is so huge that it can encapsulate all of America’s five Great Lakes within. The contents of the lake is a mixture of ethane and methane.
Some scientists hypothesize that Titan’s environment, hydrologic structure, and so on can be a model of earth’s early atmosphere. According to lead author of the study, Valerio Poggiali, the origin of liquid methane is slightly puzzling. The solar light on Titan is 100 times weaker than Earth. The environment constantly converts the methane content in atmosphere into ethane. So in ten million years’ worth of time, the entire surface reserve of methane should be depleted, argues Poggiali.
They also observed another lake on the surface which is named Moray Sinus. It is much smaller at 280 feet deep (as compared to the 1,000ft deep Kraken Mare).
Poggiali told ScienceDaily that one day, we might be able to board a vessel and take a cruise on these lakes. While it sounds like a distant science-fiction fantasy, space exploration and research may help us actually achieve that dream someday, or at least send an un-maned rover/robot to do it.
“Scientists can now infer the density of the liquid with higher precision, and consequently better calibrate the sonar aboard the vessel and understand the sea's directional flows,” said Poggiali.