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Study: Titan's surface may be dry
Posted: Thu, Aug 4, 2005, 7:41 AM ET (1141 GMT)
Titan image from Keck 2 telescope (M. Brown et al.) The surface of Saturn's moon Titan, once thought to harbor large lakes or seas of liquid hydrocarbons, may in fact be dry, according to scientists. In a paper published in the journal Nature on Thursday, scientists using the Keck Observatory in Hawaii failed to turn up any reflections of sunlight on Titan's surface at infrared wavelengths that would occur if large expenses of liquid were on the surface. The results suggest that Titan's surface, at least in the southern hemisphere, the focus of the Keck observations, doesn't have any large, permanent bodies of liquid hydrocarbons. The results support observations by the Cassini spacecraft, which has also failed to detect large areas of liquid, although it has spotted what may be a small lake of liquid hydrocarbons near Titan's south pole.
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