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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

6/23/2014 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Picture from 2013 shows a 'magic island'

A mysterious object that appeared and disappeared from a lake of Saturn's largest moon is being investigated by Scientists a year after a probe snapped pictures of the object.

A picture from June, 2013 which reportedly shows a 'magic island' on Saturn's moon Titan, is baffling scientists.

A picture from June, 2013 which reportedly shows a "magic island" on Saturn's moon Titan, is baffling scientists.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/23/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: News, International, Science


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The object was seen on Titan back in 2013 by NASA's Cassini probe as it swung around the moon of Saturn. Pictures taken before and afterwards did not show the same object.

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The object is little more than a white blob on the grainy image, which shows a methane lake on the satellite's northern hemisphere.

The top image shows the lake on Titan, while the bottom image shows the mysterious, "magic island" w

The top image shows the lake on Titan, while the bottom image shows the mysterious, "magic island" which has baffled scientists.


The sighting could be caused by an iceberg that broke free of the shoreline, rising bubbles, or even just waves rolling across a usually placid lake, scientists say.

Astronomers have nicknamed the blob the "magic island" until they have a better idea about what they are looking at.

"We can't be sure what it is yet because we only have the one image, but it's not something you would normally see on Titan," said Jason Hofgartner, a planetary scientists at Cornell University in New York. It is not something that has been there permanently."

The U.S. team made their curious discovery while looking at the radar images of Ligeia mare, a 150-meter deep sea that stretches for hundreds of miles in Titan's northern hemisphere. These snapshots were taken from 2007, 2009 and 2013, but only one showed the mysterious object.

About 12 miles long and six miles wide, the "magic island" appears in an image taken on July 10, 2013, but is absent from images taken beforehand and on July 26. Hofgartner says that the team has ruled out failures of the radar imaging equipment.

"The observations with Cassini's radar are close to the limit of sensitivity so hard to interpret. But they do seem to be the first sign of something going on in the sea. Is it floating solids or erupting gas bubbles from below or wave action? We just don't know. The one thing we can say with certainty is that we just have to go back to Titan - but this time with a sea floater so that we can see close up just what is happening in the seas of this incredible place," he said.

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