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 ")

Unrolling The Filmy Materials Of Space Tech
'When unfolded and unrolled... it became a tough, gleaming film.' - Jack Vance, 1962.

Bake in Space Bake-Off... In Space!
'A joyous condition commenced for the cook in the electric kitchen...' - Otto Willi Gail, 1929.

Free-Floating Planet Capture Not Rare, Says Paper
'planets which had been pulled from their pathways ages ago by a passing star...' - Balmer and Wylie, 1932.

Spider Flyer Walker Space Suit For Mars Astronauts
'The eight thin metallic legs were pointed downwards...' - Charles Sheffield, 1979.

 

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

TALOS Exoskeleton Development Proceeding
'Suited up, you look like a big steel gorilla...'

Autonomous Robots Navigate Like Rats
'Out of warrens in the wall, tiny robot mice darted.'

SINTEF Robot Cleans Solar Panels
'The window cleaners, with large padded feet...'

Pangorin Restaurant Service Robots
What'll you have? Jawa juice?

Drug Creates Real Melanin Tan
I've used them all my life...

Medical Drones Hover Like Angels Near You
'The death-reversal equipment is on its way...'

SkEye Amazing Israeli Gigapixel Drone
'An eye that could not only see, but fly...'

How Rude! DARPA Wants Robots To Behave More Like Threepio
'Do I know protocol? Why, it's my primary function.'

'Liquid Light' Flows Around Corners
Light as a superfluid.

Unrolling The Filmy Materials Of Space Tech
'When unfolded and unrolled... it became a tough, gleaming film.'

Buddy Companion Robot Your Bulbous Friend
'Nanny was built in the shape of a sphere, a large metal sphere, flattened on the bottom...'

Poli-X1 Prototype Bee Pollinator
Is there anything drones can't do?

Bake in Space Bake-Off... In Space!
'A joyous condition commenced for the cook in the electric kitchen...'

DeepMind AI Baffled By Homer Simpson, Needs Human Help
'Whenever a robot finds something it can't identify straight off...'

Does Earth's Middle Mantle Hold Oceans Of Water?
Al Gore, you have no idea.

Vaccine Blocks Heroin High
'You're biochemically incapable of getting off...'

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.