ananyo writes “Nestling among the dunes in the dry equatorial region of Saturn’s moon Titan is what appears to be a hydrocarbon lake. The observation, by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, suggests that oases of liquid methane — which might be a crucible for life — lie beneath the moon’s surface. Besides Earth, Titan is the only object in the Solar System to circulate liquids in a cycle of rain and evaporation, although on Titan the process is driven by methane rather than water. This cycle is expected to form liquid bodies near the moon’s poles, but not at its dune-covered equator. Now scientists think they have found a tropical lake — some 60 kilometers long and 40 kilometers wide, and at least 1 meter deep — in Cassini observations made between 2004 and 2008. Because tropical lakes on Titan should evaporate over a period of just a few thousand years, the researchers argue that these ponds and lakes are being replenished by subsurface oases of liquid methane. That would expand the number of places on the moon where life could potentially originate.”
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