Saturn's moon, Titan, contains many mysteries for scientists. But a recent study suggests it may hold the larges sea with depths up to 1,000 feet.

PIA17655 Kraken Mare crop no labels
(Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Agenzia Spaziale Italiana / USGS / Wikimedia Commons)
his is a segment of a colorized mosaic from NASA's Cassini mission that shows the complete view of Titan's northern land of lakes and seas. Saturn's moon Titan is the only world in our solar system other than Earth with stable liquid on its surface. The liquid in Titan's lakes and seas is mostly methane and ethane.

Saturn's Mysterious Moon: Titan

More than 1,020,197,400 kilometers from Earth, Titan is the largest moon of Saturn. Among the 150 known moons in our solar system, it is the only moon found with a substantial atmosphere. What's more impressive is that other than Earth, it is the only celestial body known to have various bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, and seas.

The mysterious moon is larger than Mercury and is the second largest to Mercury's moon Ganymede by 2%.

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Titan's Largest Sea

For over a decade, NASA's Cassini Mission is still providing valuable scientific information on Saturn.

Data from one of the last flybys of the spacecraft on Titan reveals a huge lake on the moon's surface with roughly 1,000 feet in depth, which is almost the high of the New York Chrysler Building. The lake's depths didn't allow Cassini radars to probe all the way to the bottom.

Kraken Mare, the largest lake on Titan, was preliminary thought to extend only 115 feet in 2014. But recent results show that the lake is, in fact, 10 times deeper than previously estimated.

Scientists expect to learn more about the mysterious chemistry of Titan by studying the depth and composition of the Kraken Mare. Its immense size suggests its importance. If it were on Earth, Kraken Mare would cover all five Great Lakes of North America.

Valerio Poggiali, a research associate from Cornell University Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science, says in a university statement, "Kraken Mare not only has a great name but also contains about 80% of the moon's surface liquids.

Titan's chemistry has puzzled scientists for generations. Although its geography is similar to swampy lake-rich areas on our planet, it is the only moon with a thick atmosphere. Titan's atmosphere consists of gaseous nitrogen compared to Earth's nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere.

Likewise, the chemical composition of Kraken Mare stumped scientists. It contains a mixture of ethane and methane. The unlikely composition of the largest lake could help researchers understand Titan's precipitation cycles.

According to NASA, unlike the bodies of water on Earth, Titan's seas are composed of liquidated Hydrocarbons.

Researchers are on the hunt of figuring out where liquid methane on Titan originated from. The mysterious moon receives roughly 100 times less energy from the sun than Earth, mostly due to its distance from the star.

With little sunlight available, Titan can convert methane in its atmosphere to ethane. However, current scientific models suggest the moon should cycle through methane in 10 million years, which is a fraction of the solar system's lifetime.

Scientists at NASA are working on a submarine concept that could launch in 2030 to investigate Titan's lake up close and personal.


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