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Mysterious 'Magic Island' appears on Saturn moon

Astronomers have discovered a bright, mysterious geologic object - where one never existed - on Cassini mission radar images of Ligeia Mare, the second-largest sea on Saturn's moon Titan. Scientifically speaking, this spot is considered a "transient feature," but the astronomers have playfully dubbed it "Magic Island."
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Titan: Clue to 'Magic Island' mystery on Saturn moon

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Scientists have outlined their best explanations for a mysterious feature dubbed the "magic island", which has been spotted on Saturn's moon Titan.
The Cassini spacecraft captured the "island" during a flyby, but it had vanished by the time of the next pass.
The bright splodge is seen in Ligeia Mare, one of the seas of methane and ethane found at Titan's north pole.
Icebergs, waves and gas bubbling up from the lake bottom are all possibilities

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Plastic, 'wrong-way' dunes arise on Saturn moon Titan

The dunes of Titan tell cosmic tales. A Cornell senior and researchers have narrowed theories on why the hydrocarbon dunes - think plastic - on Saturn's largest moon are oriented in an unexpected direction, a solar system eccentricity that has puzzled space scientists.
Physics major George McDonald '14, who graduates May 25, attributes the oddball orientation of the dunes to long timescale changes in Saturn's and Titan's orbit around the sun, similar to the changes that cause ice ages on Earth.

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The Cassini probe has detected propene, or propylene, on Saturn's moon Titan.
On Earth, this molecule, which comprises three carbon atoms and six hydrogen atoms, is a constituent of many plastics.

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New Cassini data from Titan indicate a rigid, weathered ice shell

An analysis of gravity and topography data from Saturn's largest moon, Titan, has revealed unexpected features of the moon's outer ice shell. The best explanation for the findings, the authors said, is that Titan's ice shell is rigid and that relatively small topographic features on the surface are associated with large roots extending into the underlying ocean. The study is published in the August 29 issue of the journal Nature.
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Cassini Sees Precursors to Aerosol Haze on Titan

Scientists working with data from NASA's Cassini mission have confirmed the presence of a population of complex hydrocarbons in the upper atmosphere of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, that later evolve into the components that give the moon a distinctive orange-brown haze. The presence of these complex, ringed hydrocarbons, known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), explains the origin of the aerosol particles found in the lowest haze layer that blankets Titan's surface. Scientists think these PAH compounds aggregate into larger particles as they drift downward.
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Saturn's moon Titan might be in for some wild weather as it heads into its spring and summer, if two new models are correct. Scientists think that as the seasons change in Titan's northern hemisphere, waves could ripple across the moon's hydrocarbon seas, and hurricanes could begin to swirl over these areas, too. The model predicting waves tries to explain data from the moon obtained so far by NASA's Cassini spacecraft. Both models help mission team members plan when and where to look for unusual atmospheric disturbances as Titan summer approaches.
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Cassini Shapes First Global Topographic Map of Titan

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Scientists have created the first global topographic map of Saturn's moon Titan, giving researchers a valuable tool for learning more about one of the most Earth-like and interesting worlds in the solar system. The map was just published as part of a paper in the journal Icarus.
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Title: In Situ Measurements of the Size and Density of Titan Aerosol Analogues
Authors: Sarah M. Horst, Margaret A. Tolbert

The organic haze produced from complex CH4/N2 chemistry in the atmosphere of Titan plays an important role in processes that occur in the atmosphere and on its surface. The haze particles act as condensation nuclei and are therefore involved in Titan's methane hydrological cycle. They also may behave like sediment on Titan's surface and participate in both fluvial and aeolian processes. Models that seek to understand these processes require information about the physical properties of the particles including their size and density. Although measurements obtained by Cassini-Huygens have placed constraints on the size of the haze particles, their densities remain unknown. We have conducted a series of Titan atmosphere simulation experiments and measured the size, number density, and particle density of Titan aerosol analogues, or tholins, for CH4 concentrations from 0.01% to 10% using two different energy sources, spark discharge and UV. We find that the densities currently in use by many Titan models are higher than the measured densities of our tholins.

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Titan's Methane: Going, Going, Soon to Be Gone?

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By tracking a part of the surface of Saturn's moon Titan over several years, NASA's Cassini mission has found a remarkable longevity to the hydrocarbon lakes on the moon's surface.
A team led by Christophe Sotin of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., fed these results into a model that suggests the supply of the hydrocarbon methane at Titan could be coming to an end soon (on geological timescales). The study of the lakes also led scientists to spot a few new ones in images from Cassini's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer data in June 2010.

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