The Waves in the Lakes of Titan Are Only 1 Centimeter in Height

Saturn's moon, Titan, is the only place beyond Earth with liquid lakes on its surface. A new study reflects a surprising and different vision of these lakes and seas for our world, with small waves rippling through them. Published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, researchers led by the University of Texas found that the waves on Titan reach a height of only about 1 centimeter.

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The discovery was made using radar data from the Cassini spacecraft. The study's lead author, Cyril Grima, has developed a technique that can measure "surface roughness" in truly excellent detail. And enough enough to measure the waves as being no more than 1.5 to 2.5 inches tall. The researchers also said that wind speeds were estimated at 0.22 meters per second at 10 meters above the surface.


Map of the three lakes in the northern hemisphere of Titan.

This research examined three lakes in the northern hemisphere of Titan: Kraken Mare (largest lake of Titan), Ligeia Mare and Punga Mare. In his last flight on the moon, Cassini, in April, studied this region, and the data on that can tell us how deep those lakes are.

Knowing that the wind speed on Titan is probably not so high, it means that if we want to submerge a probe in one of the seas - which has been discussed - the wind may not be a problem. As Titan's winds are currently low and the moon is currently in its "summer," it also raises doubts about the idea that summer is Titan's windiest season.

The lakes on Titan are not like those on Earth. While ours is made of water, in Titan they are composed of liquid hydrocarbons, basically the ingredients for jet fuel. However, like the Earth, these liquids go through a cycle of evaporation and rain, although each moon spot sees rain almost once every 1,000 years.

We hope future missions will come to study the many questions we have not yet answered about this intriguing moon. [IFLS]