Who doesn't love a good space mystery? And right now space buffs everywhere are in paroxysms of delight wondering "What is that thing on Titan?"
The brouhaha started when Nasa announced that its Cassini spacecraft was "monitoring the evolution of a mysterious feature in a large hydrocarbon sea on Saturn's moon Titan. The feature covers an area of about 100 square miles (260 square kilometers) in Ligeia Mare, one of the largest seas on Titan"
And that's not the only mysterious thing about it.
Nasa says that this is the second time that Cassini has spotted the 'feature' in Titan's sea. It had disappeared for a while, but was now back. And what is even weirder, is that it has changed.
According to a Nasa release:
The mysterious feature, which appears bright in radar images against the dark background of the liquid sea, was first spotted during Cassini's July 2013 Titan flyby. Previous observations showed no sign of bright features in that part of Ligeia Mare. Scientists were perplexed to find the feature had vanished when they looked again, over several months, with low-resolution radar and Cassini's infrared imager. This led some team members to suggest it might have been a transient feature. But during Cassini's flyby on August 21, 2014, the feature was again visible, and its appearance had changed during the 11 months since it was last seen.
Here is the image released by the agency:
In another more detailed report released along with the images, Nasa says that "In the images, the dark areas represent the sea, which is thought to be composed of mostly methane and ethane. Most of the bright areas represent land surface above or just beneath the water line. The mysterious bright feature appears off the coast below center in the middle and right images."
There is still no clarity on what the bright spots are, but scientists are exploring possibilities like surface waves, rising bubbles, floating solids, solids suspended just below the surface, or perhaps something more exotic.
We all know we're hoping for 'something more exotic'. Twitter certainly has some theories:
@DRUDGE_REPORT Probably Illegal Aliens.
— iamthegreatcornholio (@McLovin312) September 30, 2014
@CassiniSaturn It's the Loch Ness monster!
— Heimlich_Mud (@Heimlich_Mud) September 30, 2014
@DRUDGE_REPORT Riley Martin says its the Biavians winter retreat.
— Thomas Grunfeld (@tgrunfeld) September 30, 2014
@ForbesTech someones attacking titan?
— Srijit Sen (@Srijise) October 1, 2014
Your guide to the latest election news, analysis, commentary, live updates and schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on firstpost.com/elections. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram or like our Facebook page for updates from all 543 constituencies for the upcoming general elections.
Updated Date: Oct 01, 2014 12:29:18 IST