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January 20, 2005

The oceans of Titan

Some amazing images are coming out of the data collected during the Huygens mission to Titan. Amazingly, NASA has been beaten to the punch on this gorgeous image by amateurs:

titanrendered_large.jpg

This just goes to show the benefit of making public data publicly available. This is a 3-D rendering, not a photograph, but the terrain geography is based on real data from Titan (though the colour is not). Truly amazing. You can also see the same scene from another angle where you can clearly see islands in what is presumably a sea of liquid hydrocarbons. This is the first instance ever of a liquid being directly observed on an extraterrestial world. Could there be life swimming beneath there? Even if not, Titan could give us tremendous insight into how life evolved in the early days of Earth, when conditions were not totally dissimilar to those of Titan today.

Anyone who says space missions are a waste of money should be chastened after this mission.

Posted by david at January 20, 2005 11:01 AM | TrackBack
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