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Astronomy Picture of the Day

Posted By Editor On April 1, 2011 @ 7:35 am In Photo Essays | Comments Disabled



It’s Raining on Titan
Illustration Credit & Copyright [2]: David A. Hardy (AstroArt [3])

Explanation: It’s been raining on Titan [4]. In fact, it’s likely been raining methane on Titan and that’s not an April Fools’ joke [5]. The almost familiar scene depicted in this artist’s vision of the surface of Saturn’s largest moon looks across an eroding landscape into a stormy sky. That scenario is consistent with seasonal rain storms [6] temporarily darkening Titan’s surface [7] along the moon’s equatorial regions, as seen by instruments onboard the Cassini spacecraft [8]. Of course on frigid Titan [9], with surface temperatures of about -290 degrees F (-180 degrees C), the cycle of evaporation, cloud formation, and rain involves liquid methane [10] instead of water. Lightning could [11] also be possible in Titan’s thick, nitrogen-rich atmosphere [12].



Visit the NASA/JPL website to view more Astronomy Pictures of the Day [13]

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URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.berthoudrecorder.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/RainTitan_hardy.jpg

[2] Copyright: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/lib/about_apod.html#srapply

[3] AstroArt: http://www.hardyart.demon.co.uk/

[4] It’s been raining on Titan: http://www.ciclops.org/view.php?id=6744&js=1

[5] April Fools’ joke: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap050401.html

[6] seasonal rain storms: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/photos/imagedetails/index.cfm?imageId=4256

[7] darkening Titan’s surface: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/photos/imagedetails/index.cfm?imageId=4257

[8] Cassini spacecraft: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/index.cfm

[9] on frigid Titan: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap050117.html

[10] methane: http://scifun.chem.wisc.edu/chemweek/methane/methane.html

[11] Lightning could: http://www.space.com/8381-titan-thunder-point-alien-lightning.html

[12] nitrogen-rich atmosphere: http://www.astrobio.net/index.php?option=com_retrospection&task=detail&id=1755

[13] Astronomy Pictures of the Day: http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/

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