In an image captured by the international Cassini space probe, the scientists observed rain on Titan’s northern pole, suggesting that the summer is coming over the northern hemisphere of the largest Saturn’s moon. The new study, headed by scientists of the University of Idaho and issued in the Geophysical Research Letters, analyzed a photo Cassini captured in 2016.
“The whole Titan community has been looking forward to seeing clouds and rains on Titan’s north pole, indicating the start of the northern summer, but despite what the climate models had predicted, we weren’t even seeing any clouds. People called it the curious case of missing clouds,” said Rajani Dhingra from the University of Idaho, and the new study’s leading author.
In the image captured by the Cassini space probe in June 2016 with its near-infrared instrument, the Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer, Rajani Dhingra and her co-workers observed a reflective feature near Titan’s north pole.
Rain on Titan’s Northern Pole, the Largest Saturn’s Moon, Is Evidence That The Summer is Coming
The short-term analyses of the reflective feature on Titan revealed that it is the result of the sunlight reflecting off a wet surface. The wet surface, according to the scientists, is, at its turn, the result of a methane rainfall event on Titan’s northern hemisphere. That’s evidence that the summer is coming on Titian, the largest Saturn’s moon. In comparison with the seasons we have here on Earth, on Titan, one season lasts for about seven Earth years.
“We want our model predictions to match our observations. This rainfall detection proves Cassini’s climate follows the theoretical climate models we know of. Summer is happening. It was delayed, but it’s happening. We will have to figure out what caused the delay, though,” said Rajani Dhingra.
Titan, the largest Saturn’s moon, is one of the best candidates for the existence of alien life. The scientists believe that Titan is now like the Earth had been during its early history, during the primordial soup out of which life emerged. Accordingly, there might be organic matter and even microbes living on Titan.
With over seven years of experience in online journalism, Vadim is passionate about everything related to science and the environment. For us, he will thus cover climate, environment, and science news, among others.