Titan, one of Saturn’s moons is the only known body in the solar system to have its surface covered with lakes and seas.
Scientists have been trying to figure out how these formed on the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan.
According to a new study, the researchers have used data collected by NASA and European Space Agency’s Cassini spacecraft in order to determine how Titan’s surface got its seas and lakes.
The scientists found that Titan’s surface dissolved somehow similar to the way the sinkholes form on our planet.
However, because the temperatures on Titan are -292 degrees, its lakes and seas are filled with liquid ethane and methane, instead of water like Earth’s.
According to the experts, the sinkholes on Earth are created due the erosion of limestone, which are rocks that dissolve easily.
The scientists at ESA wanted to find out how long it would take for Saturn’s moon Titan surfaces to dissolve and create the sinkholes.
The researchers used data collected by Cassini that revealed the climate of Titan and helped the scientists estimate how long it took for the lakes and seas to form.
According to their findings, it took approximately 50 million years for a 300-foot sinkhole to appear on Titan’s surface.
Thomas Cornet, scientist at ESA and lead author of the study, explained that the dissolution process on Titan is about 30 times slower than on our planet mostly because a Titan year is longer and it only rains during the Titan summer season.
However, Cornet added, the process of dissolution is the major cause responsible for how the landscape of Titan evolved; it could also be the origin of the lakes and seas on Titan.
On June 16, the Cassini spacecraft completed a flyby of Saturn’s moon Dione and sent back amazing images of the object’s rugged surface.
According to the NASA scientist, in August Cassini will make its final flyby of Dione and will take images from approximately 290 miles away of the moon.
Later this year, the scientists will prepare the Cassini spacecraft for its final mission, which will involve diving through the space between Saturn and its rings.
Image Source: skymania