An Ocean on Titan

One of the solar system's most interesting places just got even more interesting

Titan and Dione (the smaller moon) against the face of Saturn (Cassini image)

One of the solar system’s most interesting places just got even more interesting.

Scientists studying data from the U.S./European Cassini probe in orbit around Saturn report (in this week’s Science magazine) that the fog-covered moon Titan most likely has an ocean some 60 miles beneath its icy surface.

The Cassini team infers the ocean from the way the moon flexes due to gravitational tides as it circles Saturn.  The amount of flexing is greater than one would expect if Titan were made entirely of solid rock.

Titan — already the only place in the solar system beside Earth with surface lakes — now joins a small group of water worlds: Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto, all moons of Jupiter.

The ocean had been predicted (below) but it’s nice to have empirical evidence.


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