But not that moon. Saturn’s moon. And it is not really the Nile. But, just as the Nile is one of the longest rivers on Earth, this new river is the longest river observed anywhere other than the earth. Yay Earth, you have the Longest Rivers known to Earthlings!

Scientists with NASA’s Cassini mission have spotted what appears to be a miniature, extraterrestrial likeness of Earth’s Nile River: a river valley on Saturn’s moon Titan that stretches more than 200 miles (400 kilometers) from its “headwaters” to a large sea. It is the first time images have revealed a river system this vast and in such high resolution anywhere other than Earth.

This image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows a vast river system on Saturn's moon Titan. It is the first time images from space have revealed a river system so vast and in such high resolution anywhere other than Earth. The image was acquired on Sept. 26, 2012, on Cassini's 87th close flyby of Titan. The river valley crosses Titan's north polar region and runs into Ligeia Mare, one of the three great seas in the high northern latitudes of Saturn's moon Titan. It stretches more than 200 miles (400 kilometers). Photo from NASA

Scientists deduce that the river, which is in Titan’s north polar region, is filled with liquid hydrocarbons because it appears dark along its entire length in the high-resolution radar image, indicating a smooth surface.

So it is like a river of LP!

“Though there are some short, local meanders, the relative straightness of the river valley suggests it follows the trace of at least one fault, similar to other large rivers running into the southern margin of this same Titan sea,” said Jani Radebaugh, a Cassini radar team associate at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah. “Such faults – fractures in Titan’s bedrock — may not imply plate tectonics, like on Earth, but still lead to the opening of basins and perhaps to the formation of the giant seas themselves.”

Sounds like tectonics to me. Not the “plate” kind, but certainly impressive.

Titan is the only other world we know of that has stable liquid on its surface. While Earth’s hydrologic cycle relies on water, Titan’s equivalent cycle involves hydrocarbons such as ethane and methane. In Titan’s equatorial regions, images from Cassini’s visible-light cameras in late 2010 revealed regions that darkened due to recent rainfall. Cassini’s visual and infrared mapping spectrometer confirmed liquid ethane at a lake in Titan’s southern hemisphere known as Ontario Lacus in 2008.

“Titan is the only place we’ve found besides Earth that has a liquid in continuous movement on its surface,” said Steve Wall, the radar deputy team lead, based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. “This picture gives us a snapshot of a world in motion. Rain falls, and rivers move that rain to lakes and seas, where evaporation starts the cycle all over again. On Earth, the liquid is water; on Titan, it’s methane; but on both it affects most everything that happens.”

Comments

  1. #1 Kevin Sanders
    December 12, 2012

    well, that is interesting, but Nile is also a heavy metal band whose themes are focused on ancient Egypt and death.

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    December 12, 2012

    cool

  3. #3 Kevin Sanders
    December 12, 2012

    Greg, I am not sure what type of music you listen to, but Nile is hardcore thrash metal. If you lieke something metal, but not so hardcore, check out the new song Veil of Isis by The Sword. They are AWESOME! I generally listen to rock and metal am a huge Ronnie James Dio fan, but get into bluegrass and 70s rock sometimes too. KISS was better in the 70s.

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