NASA maps the immense methane lakes of Titan (VIDEO)


posted Friday, December 13, 2013 at 1:23 PM EDT


Saturn's moon Titan shares a very special characteristic with our own planet — it's the only other body in our solar system with stable liquid on its surface. But -180°C surface temperatures (a nippy -292°F) means that it's not water that's wet on the moon. It's methane and ethane. And NASA has just completed the most complete ever map of these hydrocarbon lakes, taking data from nine years of imaging.

Those dark blue spots on the map are Titan's lakes and seas, the largest of which is Kraken Mare, which is some 40,000 square kilometers in size, and more than a thousand kilometers long. Curiously, the vast majority of Titan's methane seas occur in that one rectangle of space in the lower right of the map, a 900x1,800 kilometer section.

The information for this image was gained by the Cassini Mission's RADAR system, from 2004-2013. It has provided us with the best look yet at this moon, the only other place in the solar system that'll have liquids on its surface. There's more information about this map here, and about the flyover here.

(via Wired)