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Mapping below the seas of Titan.

Mapping below the seas of Titan

When the Voyager 1 spacecraft passed Saturn's big moon Titan in 1980, its scientific instruments successfully probed all the way down to the surface. Titan's dense atmosphere, however, prevented photography of the terrain, leaving unresolved whether its surface consists of rock, ice or a liquid ocean.

Now two scientists note that a radar scheduled to probe Titan as part of the U.S. Cassini mission in 2002 could map the surface even if it lies at the bottom of an ocean.

Possible covering for Titan's surface include water ice, a thich layer of organic sediments and an ocean of liquid methane, ethane and nitrogen, according to W. Reid Thompson and Steven W. Squyres of Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. The radar NASA is considering including in CAssini's instruments package has a 13.6-centimeter wavelength -- one capable of penetrating ocean-sediment and sediment-ice boundaries, they write in the August ICARUS. "Hence," they maintain, "such a sounding mode may offer prospects for investigating the geology of Titan even if the surface . . . is covered locally or globally by a deep ocean."
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Title Annotation:Saturn's moon
Publication:Science News
Date:Jul 28, 1990
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