Sunday, March 15, 2015

It's Raining Methane

Click for photo credit.  This image from the Hubble telescope
shows Titan as a large orange dot in the upper right quadrant
of the photo.  Three other moons can be seen as well.
Check out this article from Science News on the methane seas on Titan (the largest moon orbiting Saturn).  Scientists have been studying the moon and have found large methane seas on its cold surface.  The methane is not just sitting in the lake.  It undergoes phase changes just like water on our planet. It evaporates, forms clouds, and eventually rains onto the surface of the moon.

The methane seas that formed over time on Titan are over 200 meters deep.  Only a centimeter or so of methane falls on the surface every year.  There are no methane monsoons.  The methane cycle seems to work much slower than our hydrologic cycle. However, the finding does provide interesting atmospheric process links between Earth and Titan.

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