Friday, July 4, 2014

Saturn's Moon Titan Has Surprisingly Salty Oceans Lurking Under Its Surface


With every new discovery, Saturn’s moon Titan gets more compelling. The latest data from NASA’s Cassini mission has confirmed that not only is there a saltwater ocean beneath the moon’s surface, it might be an ocean as salty as the Earth’s own Dead Sea.

Scientists have inferred that Titan’s subsurface ocean is an extremely salty from gravity and topography data gathered during the last decade. The gravity data told scientists that the subsurface ocean had to have a high density, which means it would have to have some element present in the water.

The likeliest candidates are sulfur, sodium, and potassium, all of which could easily be dissolved in water in the concentrations needed to explain the gravity data. Those concentrations that would make for a very briny ocean.

"This is an extremely salty ocean by Earth standards," said Giuseppe Mitri of the University of Nantes in France. "Knowing this may change the way we view this ocean as a possible abode for present-day life, but conditions might have been very different there in the past.”

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