Giant ice "corridor" on Saturn's moon has puzzled scientists

Titan, the largest satellite of Saturn, a gas giant, hides a lot of mysteries. The thick haze of its dense atmosphere nitrous long time hiding from the eyes of researchers is one very interesting geological feature, which managed to open just now. In an article published in the journal Nature Astronomy reported the presence on the surface of this huge ice satellite "corridor" that stretches for 6, 3 thousand kilometers, which is approximately equal to the circumference 40 of the cosmic body.

Giant ice

On Titan, as on Earth, it rains and there are entire liquid sea, but they are not filled with water, and methane. Trying to understand its source, the University of Arizona planetary scientist Caitlin Griffith and her team of researchers have discovered something incredible - long ice sheet, located in the equatorial area of ​​the satellite, and covers almost half of Titan. "Corridor" is between 30 ° c. g., 15 ° north latitude and 110 ° c. g., 15 ° south latitude and has a length of about 6, 3 thousand. km.

Giant ice

Ice "corridor" in blue

Reveal its analysis helped many thousands of images of the top layer of the moon's surface, obtained by the visible and infrared mapping spectrometer spacecraft "Cassini". Thanks to him, the scientists were able to detect weak surface indications of organic matter on the surface of Titan.

"This corridor of ice puzzles, because it does not correlate with any characteristics of surface or subsurface measurements" - says Griffith.

The researchers said that surprised the existence of such features on the moon's surface. Titan's atmospheric methane molecules are constantly degraded by sunlight. The resulting haze is deposited on the surface and accumulates in the form of organic deposits, quickly depleting atmospheric methane.

Scientists can not understand how this strange, wet and polluted environment that Griffith describes as "very unusual Earth version" can fit into such a geological feature, so suspect that in this case it is a "relic of another satellite era, frozen in time. "

"It is possible that we will see a kind of geological features, which appeared on the satellite at a time when it was quite different. Given the current environment of Titan, we can not explain what we see, "- says Griffith.

According to one hypothesis the researchers, this geological structure may be a legacy of cryovolcanism, what was happening on Titan in the past. The satellite might be ice volcanoes, water discharged into the atmosphere, ammonia and methane, as well as the magma does not have in the world. Griffith's team began to study the composition of Titan's surface, partly hoping to find a small thin kriovulkany candidate. But after analyzing the half of the moon's surface, they did not find anything.

"Given that our study and previous studies show that the Titan is currently a volcanically active trail corridor is probably a remnant of the past. We find this feature on steep slopes, but not on all slopes. This suggests that the ice corridor are currently being eroded, potentially revealing the presence of ice and organic layers, "- explains Griffith.

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