Bright Patches on Saturn’s Largest Moon Are Dried-Up Lake Beds
by Alex Fox/Smithsonianmag.com
Research suggests mysterious bright spots seen at the equator of Saturn’s moon Titan may be dried up lake beds, reports Lisa Grossman for Science News. The new research, published this week in the journal Nature Communications, offers an explanation for a phenomenon first observed in 2000.
Between 2000 and 2008, radio telescopes at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico and the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia identified roughly a dozen spots at Titan’s equator that were bouncing anomalously bright radio signals back to Earth, reports Mike Wall for Space.com. Such signals, called specular reflections, happen when radio waves bounce off a surface at the same angle they went in at, like the sun glinting off a mirror, explains Grossman in Science News.
At the time, the prevailing wisdom was that Titan’s equatorial specular reflections were essentially sun glints on the surface of large bodies of liquid, which researchers had long suspected existed on the moon’s surface, Jason Hofgartner, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the study’s…..read more: