Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, is the only other planet in the solar system where liquids flow freely to the bottom. However, it is not water like Earth; it is liquid hydrocarbons, mostly methane and ethane. It rains on the moon and Forms Rivers, lakes, and seas. Researchers have now measured the depth of an estuary flowing into Titan’s largest ocean, and from there they were able to estimate how deep the ocean’s potential is.
In a study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, planetary scientists have estimated the depth of the mite sinus, which is located at the northern end of the Kraken Mar, the largest known body of fluid on Titan’s surface. The Cassini mission that studied Saturn and its moon for more than a decade was equipped with a RADAR altimeter. The team used time differences rather than return signals reflected by the sea surface of the estuary and the signals that went through the liquid were reflected from the ocean bed to determine the reflection and depth of the ocean.
The team was able to estimate that the estuary is about 85 meters (280 feet) deep, although there are significant uncertainties that could make it somewhat shallower or deeper. Despite the uncertainty, data researchers were able to estimate that the Kraken Sea is at least 100 meters (330 feet) deep, but it could be about 300 times as much as (one thousand feet) three times.
Lead author Valerio Poggiali, a research associate at the Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science, said in a statement, “The depth and composition of each of Titan’s oceans had already been measured, except for killing Titan’s largest ocean crater, which not only has a great name but contains about 80% liquid on the moon’s surface.”
Based on these assumptions, it appears that the Kraken mare is not very different from other large liquids on the lunar surface, and this is an important factor in our understanding of Titan. Chemically, methane in Titan’s atmosphere is converted to methane by sunlight. So, billions of years later, it should be all ethane, but methane remains – and its source is now a mystery. Further exploration of the moon is planned through the NASA Dragonfly Mission in mid-2026, with signs of arrival or life to be discovered by 2034. Future missions have also discussed whether a robotic submarine could explore its seas and lakes, something researchers think is vital to exploring the Kraken Mar. Poggiali said, “Thanks for our measurement.” He added, “Scientists can now estimate the density of the liquid with higher accuracy and as a result can better discover the gold on the ship and understand the directional flow of the ocean.”