Black liquid found on Titan is ethane


WASHINGTON (BNS): In a major breakthrough in space research, scientists have identified the black liquid found on Saturn's moon, Titan, by Cassini, as liquid ethane. Liquid ethane is formed when methane breaks down in sunlight in the upper atmosphere.

The black liquid was observed in one of the lake-like features of the moon by the Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) onboard the Cassini Spacecraft. This discovery made Saturn's moon the only celestial body, besides Earth, where liquid is known to exist on the surface.

The research conducted by a team of scientists under the guidance of Robert Brown, professor of planetary science at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory (LPL) in Tucson, showed that the lake-like feature of the moon is formed when clouds of ethane rain onto the ground. Brown said that this was the first clear
proof for both liquid and liquid hydrocarbons on Titan.

NASA's Cassini Imaging Science Subsystem had detected the large lake-like feature, Onatario Lacus, on Titan's south-polar region in mid-2005.

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