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The recent images captured by the European Space Agency’ Cassini probe suggests that Titan’s methane lakes are formed like earth’s sinkholes. Space scientists have explained that the liquid methane and ethane that is rained on Titan’s surface during the months of summer gather in lakes that corrode the surface of the celestial body in time.
Saturn’s moon, Titan is now being closely studied, after the Cassini probe that was sent into the outer space by the European Space Agency years ago has finally got closer to the surface of the moon. Previous data revealed that there are polar winds on the moon that act and evolve like the ones on Earth.
This is not the only similarity that scientists have manage to identify. Apparently, the methane lakes and rivers that exist on the surface of the planet give birth to sinkholes that bear strong resemblances with the ‘karstic’ landforms on Earth.
Since Titan is very cold, water cannot exist in its liquid form on the stellar formation. As a consequence, liquid methane and ethane are released each day into Titan’s ionosphere. These amounts are later on, poured on the surface of the planet, during the summer months, when Titan abounds in rain.
Even though the methane lakes function very much like Earth’s sinkholes, there are also differences. According to the scientists, who have carefully studied the phenomenon, these substances corrode the surface of Titan 30 times slower than water normally does on Earth.
The long Titan years and the fact that rain only comes during the summer months are the two main elements that prevent lakes from shaping other forms on the soil of Titan. In spite of the lengthy time interval that Titan requires to form new lakes, scientists are convinced that dissolution is responsible for these new liquid shapes.
The new received data has further enabled them to estimate that Titan would require approximately 375 million years to form depressions at lower latitudes. As a matter of fact, the planet does not hold lakes around the equator region, where the rain is rarer.
Researchers have been excited with the new findings of the Cassini probe. They were particularly delighted by the fact that the moon has similar formation processes to the ones on earth. They will continue their research throughout the entire period when the Cassini probe is close to Saturn’s moon.
Image source: www.popsci.com