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Saturn's moon Titan, NASA orbiter finds a lake, marshes of liquid methane


New images show lakes and marshes on Saturn's moon Titan sparking renewed interest in life on the distant planet.



Saturn's moon Titan has a methane lakes and marshes new images from a NASA spacecraft show.

Titan is the only known moon in the solar system to have an atmosphere similar to that of Earth and to have liquid - except that instead of water, it is methane.

The lake, near Titan's equator region, were discovered by researchers at the University of Tucson.

Scientists say the lake is nearly 40 miles long and over 20 miles wide, reported the Associated Press.

The lake is also about three feet deep.

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Previous images from NASA's Cassini orbiter found hundreds of lakes near the moon's poles, yet none had previously been discovered in the drier regions of the moon, reported National Geographic.

"Any liquid deposited in the tropical surface evaporates quickly and eventually is transported by Titan's circulation to the poles, where the large polar lakes appear," said investigator Caitlin Griffith, a planetary scientist at the University of Arizona in Tucson. reported the Christian Science Monitor.

"Lakes at the poles are easy to explain, but lakes in the tropics are not."

The finding is important as so called "tropical" lakes found in warmer regions that are typically dry and covered with sand dunes suggest subterranean channels of liquid that reach the surface like oases.

"This discovery was absolutely not expected," Griffith said, reported Nature.

"Lakes at the poles are easy to explain, but lakes in the tropics are not."

The study was published in the journal Nature.