Cassini Discovers Ocean Beneath Surface of Titan

Let’s keep the interesting train of discovery rolling, shall we? Dr Luciano Iess, a Cassini team member at the Sapienza University of Rome and lead author of a paper in the journal Science, reports new findings about one of Saturn’s moons, Titan.

Like the Sun, Earth, and our Moon, there are tidal forces at play between the Sun, Saturn, and Titan. Analysis of Titan’s surface indicate that it’s not solid rock, though. Methane is abundant in the atmosphere of Titan (and some theorize there are lakes of liquid methane on the surface). But scientists wonder how that methane reaches the surface. They theorize that it is through volcanic eruptions.

And here’s where it gets interesting. Based on Earth’s history, life tends to develop where water, methane, and rock come together. Now, if there is a subsurface ocean on Titan (and Dr. Iess’s team believes they have evidence for a subsurface ocean), and volcanic eruptions push methane to the surface (along with or through some rock, passing through the water), well then Titan could be a place definitely worth studying.

At best, we find life. At worst, it’s a storage depot of methane (hydrocarbons) and water. It’s a gas station for human interplanetary travel. How cool is that? Definitely take a moment and read up on Titan. It’s a very interesting place.