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An ethane river as it may appear from the surface of Saturn's moon Titan; organonitrogen haze; hydrocarbon haze; tholin; smog; anti-greenhouse effect - Space Art Illustration
 

An ethane river on Titan

A river of liquid ethane flows beneath a line of bluffs on Titan. Attempts to glimpse Titan's surface from Earth-bound observatories and interplanetary probes have been thwarted by the thick hydrocarbon haze that covers the satellite at all times. Since very little is known about the frigid world that lies beneath the haze*, one can only imagine the exotic landforms and vistas a visitor might find. Titan's surface would likely be considerably darker and not so colorful to human eyes as these images suggest due to its great distance from the Sun.

* Fortunately Titan's haze is relatively transparent to the Cassini orbiter's infrared-sensitive "eyes."  A great deal has been learned about the Surface of Titan since Cassini-Huygen's first encounter with the satellite in October 2004. A vista like the one above is still very much a real-world possibility.

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Copyright Walter B. Myers. All rights reserved.

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