STATES CHRONICLE – Back in 2013, the Cassini spaceship sent by NASA surveyed the largest moon of Saturn, Titan and discovered some mysterious islands. The images which were captured there indicated that some unusual bright locations in Ligeia Mare. This sea is known to be the second largest one on the surface of Saturn’s moon. Scientists claim that Ligeia Mare is 50% more extended than our Lake Superior.
Titan’s Ligeia Mare is covered in mysterious islands
The sea consists of liquid ethane, nitrogen, and methane. Thus, the chemical composition of that sea makes those mysterious islands even less pleasant since life there would be impossible. Nevertheless, scientists continued to wonder what these islands are. Apparently, after many analyses, they managed to find an answer. These bright spaces which appeared to look just like islands were, in fact, thousands of bubbles.
Based on the data provided by a new study published in Nature Astronomy, Ligeia Mare can be an actively effervescent sea. Moreover, scientists also discovered that the sea’s activity is transitory, this being the reason why it was difficult for them to pin it down and classify it. So, Titan’s mysterious islands cannot be called islands. They represent some bubbles which form at the surface of the sea.
After analyzing Cassini data, scientists established that those islands were, in fact, bubbles
Daniel Cordier, the lead author of the study, declared that the surface of Ligeia Mare appears to be very calm in the light of RADAR examinations. However, once in a while, they have noticed some streams of big bubbles that measure a few centimeters in diameter and which reach the surface. Cordier is a researcher at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris.
On Earth, this kind of activity of the sea does not exist. These bubbles form whenever the mixture between methane, ethane, and nitrogen becomes unstable due to the pressures and temperatures that researchers believe to exist in the depths of the sea. The increased concentration of nitrogen which was revealed at the surface and the ethane found at the bottom of Ligeia Mare mix through hydrodynamic circulation.
These three chemical substances manage to separate because of the pressure which sends nitrogen bubbles to the surface. Scientists revealed this phenomenon by using a numerical model developed after implementing Cassini’s information. Titan is known to be a unique moon in the solar system wince it has a dense atmosphere of methane and nitrogen, featuring clouds and a blurry orange appearance.
Image courtesy of: jpl nasa