The Titan's Magic Island

Recently a mysterious ‘magic island’ has appeared out of nowhere in radar images of Ligeia Mare, the second-largest sea on Saturn's moon Titan. NASA's Scientists spotted the object in an image taken by Nasa's Cassini probe last year as it swung around the alien moon, more than a billion kilometres from Earth. Pictures of the same spot captured nothing before or some days later.

Since 2004 Cassini space probe has been exploring the Saturnian system. Prior to July 2013 the Titan's hydrocarbon sea had appeared flat and completely devoid of features, including waves. Then the enigmatic object, dubbed ‘magic island’ by scientists, suddenly materialised - only to vanish away in later images.
A photo from July 2013 of the mysterious 'magic island'
 transient feature in Ligeia Mare (circled in red),
acquired by the Cassini probe

Planetary scientist Jason Hofgartner, from Cornell University in New York City, said: ‘This discovery tells us that the liquids in Titan's northern hemisphere are not simply stagnant and unchanging, but rather that changes do occur.

‘We don't know precisely what caused this 'magic island' to appear, but we'd like to study it further.’


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