Liquid Lakes On Titan Ready For Robofish

Liquid lakes on Titan, one of the moon's of Saturn, were predicted by scientists twenty years ago. Newly available radar imaging data from the Cassini flyby of July 22, 2006, appear to confirm the existence of these lakes.


(Liquid lakes on Titan)

The image shown above gives convincing evidence; this image was published this week in the journal Nature. Intensity in this colorized image is proportional to how much radar brightness is returned, or more specifically, the logarithm of the radar backscatter cross-section. The colors are not a representation of what the human eye would see on Titan.

The lakes are tinted blue; the radar image strip is foreshortened to simulate an oblique view. The image is centered near 80 degrees north, 35 degrees west and is about 140 kilometers (84 miles) across. The smallest details in this image are about 500 meters (1,640 feet) across.

"The lakes are basically black in the [radar] data, which is how a liquid would behave," Stofan said. Radar data alone wasn't enough, however. A very smooth deposit of fine soil would also appear black on radar, Stofan explained.

The clincher that the patches were liquid lakes came from looking at the surrounding terrain. Some of the patches appeared to be fed by sinuous channels, or "rivers," some more than 62 miles (100 kilometers) long. Others appeared to be contained within rimmed circular depressions, similar to crater lakes or volcanic calderas on Earth.

"The morphological evidence points completely away from it being a smooth deposit of soil or sediment. It's just not consistent," said study team member Ellen Stofan of University College London and Caltech. "Combining these two sets of data, it led us to feel very confident about the interpretation that they're actually liquid."

Science fiction writer Michael Swanwick, writing well after scientists had predicted liquid lakes on Titan, created an enjoyable story about a scientific expedition to this fascinating Saturnian moon. And what would be the best way to obtain samples from a methane lake, now that you've found one? The Mitsubishi robot turbot, of course:

Consuelo carefully cleaned both of her suitís gloves in the sea, then seized the shrink-wrapís zip tab and yanked. The plastic parted. Awkwardly, she straddled the fish, lifted it by the two side-handles, and walked it into the dark slush. She set the fish down. "Now Iím turning it on."
The Mitsubishi turbot wriggled, as if alive. With one fluid motion, it surged forward, plunged, and was gone.
Lizzie switched over to the fishcam.
Black liquid flashed past the turbotís infrared eyes.
(Read more about the Titan-exploring robofish)

Roboticists are working on robofish as fast as they can; see these stories for details:

- Robotic Fish From China
- Robotic Carp Swims Realistically In London
- RoboSalmon Are Descended From SHARCs

Read more at NASA and Space.com.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 1/4/2007)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

PRAM Solar Powered Satellite Hardware Tested In Orbit
'Our beams feed these worlds energy drawn from... the Sun' - Isaac Asimov, 1941.

MIT Wants To Catch Interstellar Visitors
'INVESTIGATE MYSTERIOUS OBJECT ENTERING NEW CALEDONIA SYSTEM FROM NORMAL SPACE' - Niven and Pournelle, 1974.

Starlink Orbital Network Like Coruscant Traffic Jam
Vermin of the Sky? Or Internet access for all?

NASA Competition To Design A Bucket Drum For Moon Mining
'There was a heap of discarded ore where Grantline had carted and dumped it...' - Ray Cummings, 1930.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Cute Teddy Bear Robot Favorite Of Hospitalized Children
'...thought had been given to its programming.'

Google Now Expects Chips To Design Themselves
'What lay down there? Energy, tubes and pipes, wiring, transformers, self-contained machinery...'

PRAM Solar Powered Satellite Hardware Tested In Orbit
'Our beams feed these worlds energy drawn from... the Sun'

3D Printed Glass Uses Stereolithography Techniques
'All that with glass...'

Science Fiction Helps Young Readers Build Resiliency
'Reading science fiction and fantasy can help readers make sense of the world.'

I Want My 1928 Telestereo Hologram Now
'Instantly there appeared standing upon the disk, the image of a man...'

Memes Now Come From Neural Nets
'Your order said for him to be able to be able to work out twists on the gags in the file...'

Robot Dog Learns To Be Doggy From Real Dogs
'So we took pictures of Guzub making a Three Planets, and I could construct this one to do it exactly right down to the thousandth of a second.'

Unwanted Cruise Ships Huddle Together Out At Sea
'On the screen they passed in an endless, boundaryless flood of green specks...'

Sono Sion Electric Car Charges As You Drive
'It drew its power from six square yards of sunpower screens on its low curved roof.'

News Mood Filter Web Extension
'He adjusted the n, the r and b knobs, and hopefully anticipated a turn for the better...'

Fetal Lamb Rests In Artificial Womb
'... stewing warm on their cushion of peritoneum and gorged with blood-surrogate and hormones, the foetuses grew and grew...'

MIT Wants To Catch Interstellar Visitors
'INVESTIGATE MYSTERIOUS OBJECT ENTERING NEW CALEDONIA SYSTEM FROM NORMAL SPACE'

AutoX Sets Up Asia's Largest Robotaxi Center
'The robot cab seemed to know where it was going and, no doubt, the master machine from which it received its signals knew.'

E - Ink's Automatic Self Styling Color-Changing Dress
'The racks of gowns itched and quivered, their colors running into blurred pools.'

Soft Robots Use Kirigami Piezoelectric Sensor Skin
'A worthy opponent was the golem.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.