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Saturn's Moon, Titan, Has Flooded Canyons, Spotted By Cassini Spacecraft

First Posted: Aug 12, 2016 06:09 AM EDT
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The largest moon of Saturn, Titan, has flooded canyons with liquid hydrocarbons. The canyons are about 1,870 feet (570 meters0 deep and have at least 40 degrees' slopes and have maximum widths of about 0,5 miles (0.8 kilometers), according to researchers.

The study was printed in Geophysical Research Letters. The research was led by Valerio Poggiali from the University of Rome and other colleagues, according to SpaceAlex Hayes, the co-author of the study explained that the Earth is warm and rocky, with rivers of water, while Titan is cold and icy, with rivers of methane. He further explained that it is remarkable that they find such same features on both worlds.

The team also said that the Cassini spacecraft discovered the deep, flooded canyons on the surface of Titan during a close flyby of the 3,200-mile-wide (5,000 km) moon in May 2013. These are similar to canyons that you see on Earth, according to Popular Science. The researchers also found that the steep troughs were formed out by liquid.

They also thought that the same forces that formed canyons such as the Grand Canyon on earth may have also shaped the canyons on Titan. This could either be a sudden drop in sea level that forced the liquid to rapidly cut down into the rock or by the bedrock itself being forced up.

Poggiali explained that it's likely that a combination of these forces added to the shaping of the deep canyons. On the other hand, at present, it's not clear to what degree each was involved. He further explained that what is clear is that any description of Titan's geological evolution needs to be able to explain how the canyons got there.

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