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  1. #1
    Sagan's Avatar Carl Sagan
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    Chunks of Frozen Hydrocarbons May be Floating on Titan’s Lakes


    This artist's concept envisions what hydrocarbon ice forming on a liquid hydrocarbon sea of Saturn's moon Titan might look like. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/USGS

    The Cassini spacecraft has been getting some strange data from Saturn’s moon Titan, and scientists will soon test out whether there might be “icebergs” of sorts, blocks of hydrocarbon ice floating on the surface of the lakes and seas of liquid hydrocarbon.

    “One of the most intriguing questions about these lakes and seas is whether they might host an exotic form of life,” said Jonathan Lunine, a paper co-author and Cassini interdisciplinary Titan scientist at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. “And the formation of floating hydrocarbon ice will provide an opportunity for interesting chemistry along the boundary between liquid and solid, a boundary that may have been important in the origin of terrestrial life.”

    Titan is the only other body besides Earth in our solar system with stable bodies of liquid on its surface. But it is too cold on Titan for water to be liquid, so hydrocarbons like ethane and methane fill lakebeds and seas there, and scientists have determined there is even a likely cycle of precipitation and evaporation that involves hydrocarbons.


    Read more: http://www.universetoday.com/99339/c...-titans-lakes/
    http://youtu.be/zSgiXGELjbc

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  2. #2
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    That's interesting! The question that occurs to me is whether hydrocarbons have a form that can float on the surface. Water is unusual in that it's solid form is less dense than its liquid form, so it floats. It's the other way around for most other molecules.

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