Saturn’s Moon Titan Reveals Strange Gravity Phenomenon

An analysis of gravity and topography data from Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, has revealed that Titan’s ice shell is rigid and that relatively small topographic features on the surface are associated with large roots extending into the underlying ocean. Led by planetary scientists Douglas Hemingway and Francis Nimmo at the University of California, Santa Cruz, the study used new data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. The researchers were surprised to find a negative correlation between the gravity and topography signals on Titan.

"Normally, if you fly over a mountain, you expect to see an increase in gravity due to the extra mass of the mountain. On Titan, when you fly over a mountain the gravity gets lower. That’s a very odd observation," said Nimmo, a professor of Earth and planetary sciences at UC Santa Cruz.

To explain that observation, the researchers developed a model in which each bump in the topography on the surface of Titan is offset by a deeper “root” big enough to overwhelm the gravitational effect of the bump on the surface. The root is like an iceberg extending below the ice shell into the ocean underneath it. “Because ice is lower density than water, you get less gravity when you have a big chunk of ice there than when you have water,” Nimmo explained.

An iceberg floating in water is in equilibrium, its buoyancy balancing out its weight. In this model of Titan, however, the roots extending below the ice sheet are so much bigger than the bumps on the surface that their buoyancy is pushing them up against the ice sheet.

"It’s like a big beach ball under the ice sheet pushing up on it, and the only way to keep it submerged is if the ice sheet is strong," said Hemingway, a doctoral candidate in planetary geophysics at UCSC and lead author of the paper. "If large roots are the reason for the negative correlation, it means that Titan’s ice shell must have a very thick rigid layer." The Daily Galaxy via University of California, Santa Cruz

Read More

  1. odalibuc reblogged this from colonelcheru
  2. lifewriter reblogged this from nazothecrusader
  3. nazothecrusader reblogged this from colonelcheru
  4. colonelcheru reblogged this from commissionerren
  5. commissionerren reblogged this from electricspacekoolaid
  6. that-girl-izzy reblogged this from electricspacekoolaid
  7. wondersofstars reblogged this from space-tart
  8. thesagacontinued reblogged this from phoeniciansailor
  9. drowninginscienceandfeels reblogged this from electricspacekoolaid
  10. cyclide reblogged this from littleemptyattik
  11. ashamoonraven reblogged this from mentalalchemy and added:
    )O( Saturn’s Moon Titan Reveals Strange Gravity Phenomenon An analysis of gravity and topography data from Saturn’s...
  12. faeryfever reblogged this from electricspacekoolaid
  13. theprussiancommonwealth reblogged this from mellow-wonder
  14. mellow-wonder reblogged this from embryaa
  15. retromantique reblogged this from sagansense
  16. isleswoman reblogged this from embryaa
  17. embryaa reblogged this from daydreaming-stayscheming
  18. knowledge-passion reblogged this from electricspacekoolaid and added:
    Saturn’s Moon Titan Reveals Strange Gravity Phenomenon An analysis of gravity and topography data from Saturn’s largest...
  19. radioactiveswagsprings reblogged this from sagansense
  20. affairsinink reblogged this from mentalalchemy
  21. robotmonastery-deactivated reblogged this from sodiumlamps
  22. sodiumlamps reblogged this from somuchscience
  23. nfornihilism reblogged this from karethdreams
  24. bridgesandbitches reblogged this from gammarobot
  25. gammarobot reblogged this from somuchscience
  26. thirdglass reblogged this from somuchscience
  27. billclintonluver reblogged this from somuchscience
  28. karethdreams reblogged this from somuchscience