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NASA's Cassini spacecraft spotted fresh rain on Saturn's moon Titan – BGR



NASA's Cassini orbiter has been dead for well over a year now, but its incredible discoveries continue to drip in as scientists pore over data and images it collected while active.

Therefore, studies focusing on the orbiter's findings continue to crop regularly, such as a recent study by the University of Idaho in Moscow's doctoral student Rajani Dhingra, who along with his colleagues found evidence of precipitation on the North Pole of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, on An image taken on June 7, 2016. This indicates that the summer had arrived on the lunar northern hemisphere later than had been predicted by climate models.

"The whole Titan community has been looking forward to seeing clouds and rain on the Titan north pole, indicating the start of the northern summer, but despite what the climate models had predicted, we didn't even see any clouds," Dhingra said. lead author of the study. "People called it the curious case of missing clouds."

Dhingra and her colleagues discovered a reflective function near Titan's north pole in the above image ̵

1; a feature that covered approx. 46,332 square kilometers – which had never been before, and did not show up when Cassini passed by again. Dhingra concluded that the reflective nature of the function was due to sunlight reflecting a wet surface which she believed was the result of a methane precipitation event.

Image Source: NASA / JPL / University of Arizona / Idaho University

This is the first time that summer rainfall has been seen on Titan. While the Earth experiences four seasons over a year, a single season of Titan lasts seven years. When Cassini reached Titan, clouds and rain were observed in the southern hemisphere, which signaled a southern summer. Climate models predicted the rain would move to the northern hemisphere "up to the northern summer solstice in 2017", but the clouds had still not arrived in 2016. The images above should help the testers understand why that was the case.

We want our model predictions to match our observations. This precipitation method shows that Cassini's climate follows the theoretical climate models we know of, "Dhingra said." Summer is happening. It was delayed, but it happens.

Image Source: NASA / JPL / University of Arizona


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