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Titan shaped by Earth-like processes
Posted: Sat, Jan 22, 2005, 10:10 AM ET (1510 GMT)
Huygens image of Titan river channels (ESA) Scientists analyzing data collected by ESA's Huygens probe said Friday that the moon's surface has been altered by processes similar to those found on Earth, including methane rain and rivers. Images and spectroscopic data obtained by Huygens had led scientists to believe that a rain of liquid methane fell in the region where the probe landed in the relatively recent past, perhaps within the last year. While dark areas seen in Huygens images appear to be dry — not lakes or seas as originally speculated — river channels seen in the Huygens images led scientists to conclude that liquid methane does flow in them from time to time before drying up. Scientists also said it is possible that Huygens landed in a region that is relatively arid, and that other regions of the moon may have more liquid. Rocks seen at the landing site are, in fact, blocks of water ice. Hills in the distance, estimated to be about 100 meters high, are also likely made of water ice; their relatively clean appearance suggests that methane rain does fall in the area regularly.
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