Methane rain has been observed at Titan’s north pole

The Cassini probe has provided images indicating methane rain on the north pole of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. The observed precipitation, according to scientists, is the first sign of summer beginning in the moon’s northern hemisphere.

The entire community of astronomersow couldn’t wait to see the clouds and rains on the pohe north pole of Titan, indicating the beginning of summer, but despite what climate models predicted, we didn’t even see clouds,” said Govowna study author Rajani Dhingra of the University of Idaho

The research was accepted for publication in “Geophysical Research Letters”.

Titan is Saturn’s largest moon and the second largest moon in the Solar System. It is also one of the most intriguing and Earth-like objectsow in our system. It is larger than Mercury and almost as large as Mars, and its dense atmosphere consists of mainlyownie of nitrogen and carbon-based organic molecules, including methane and ethane. This chemical makeup is similar to Earth’s original atmosphere, researchers say.

Titan wyroIt feeds into a rich, complex and zrosion chemistry found on its surface, where reservoirs of liquid have been discovered. However, they are not filled with water, but liquid methane. This moon has no magnetic field of its own, but it is partially protected from the solar wind by Saturn’s magnetosphere.

Rains on Titan have been observed by the Cassini probe. Titan is difficult to observe due to its dense atmosphere. The atmosphere scatters visible light making it impossible to observe the surface, but allows someore wavelengths of light in the infrared range. With the help of infrared detectors mounted aboard the probe, researchers spotted intriguing reflections in an image taken on June 7, 2016. These strange features were not visible in previous images of the pole ponortheast Titan and covered an area of about 120,000. kilometerow square.

After analysis of the reflectionow scientists have concluded that these are probably reflections reflecting sunlight off the wet surface. The researchers linked this to methane precipitation. – It’s like looking at a sun-soaked wet sidewalk,” said Dhingra.

Photo. NASA/JPL/University of Arizona/University of Idaho

These are the first observations of summer precipitationow on poNorth poTitan’s bow. In a poreoIn relation to the annual cycle of the four por of the year on Earth, on Titan the seasons change every seven Earth years or so. Cassini’s arrival in Titan’s vicinity during the summer in the southern poThe spacecraft has been on the surface of Titan and has observed clouds and methane rainfall thereow. Observations may helpoc scientists in a more complete understanding of por year on this moon of Saturn.

– We want our predictions to agree with observations. Detection of these precipitationow shows that Titan’s climate is consistent with theoretical climate models for that moon, said Dhingra. – Summer arrived, there was some opoźed, but it has come. Now we need to find out what caused the opoźing – emphasized Dhingra.

NASA is considering a mission to Titan, in ktorej would include a drone. MoIt would thoroughly explore the lunar surface. The mission has the working name Dragonfly. It was proposed in April 2017, and selected for further conceptual work.

Sourceobackground: American Geophysical Union, photo. NASA/JPL/University of Arizona