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Lake on Titan

August 19, 2008

Scientists have confirmed the existence of a large, liquid lake on Saturn’s moon Titan.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
An extraterrestrial lake. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Scientists have decisively identified a liquid lake on an extraterrestrial surface. It’s on Saturn’s moon Titan, and it’s made of ethane and other organic chemicals. University of Arizona planetary scientist Bob Brown says it’s long been suspected that Titan had liquid lakes and seas. The final proof came from the Cassini spacecraft, which used radar and infrared sensors to penetrate Titan’s thick atmosphere. Brown says the lake’s interior reflected almost no infrared light.

BOB BROWN (University of Arizona):
So to find something that dark, it basically has to be impossibly smooth for a solid; no natural solid could be that smooth.

HIRSHON:
That implies that similar features on Titan are also filled with liquid organic compounds – an intriguing comparison to the precursors of life on the early Earth. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.