Extraterrestrial Oceanography: The Hydrocarbon Seas of Saturn's Moon Titan

Session ID#: 9558

Session Description:
Oceanography is no longer just an Earth science.  The discovery of three seas and hundreds of lakes on Saturn's moon Titan brings a new dimension to the study of ocean circulation, air-sea exchange, mixing and sedimentation. Observations and modeling of these familiar processes under exotic circumstances on Titan (with a gravity the same as our moon, an atmosphere four times denser than ours, and seas of liquid methane and ethane at 94K) open new possibilities for more fundamental understanding of oceanography, and provide exciting opportunities to put our own seas in context.  This tutorial will review the observations from the NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini mission, which has mapped the extent of the seas and measured their depth in some places with radar (liquid methane is radio-transparent).  Radar and sunglint observations have constrained surface roughness - up to now generally small, but perhaps showing signs of wind-wave generation as we move towards northern midsummer in 2017.  The tutorial will also review the physical properties of the sea liquid - in fact somewhat familiar in the liquified natural gas industry - and prospects for the future exploration of the seas.
Moderator:  Baris Salihoglu, Middle East Technical University, Institute of Marine Sciences, Mersin, Turkey
Primary Presenter:  Ralph D Lorenz, Applied Physics Laboratory Johns Hopkins, Laurel, MD, United States
Presenter:  Alexander Hayes, Cornell University, Department of Astronomy, Ithaca, NY, United States
Index Terms:

4504 Air/sea interactions [OCEANOGRAPHY: PHYSICAL]
4560 Surface waves and tides [OCEANOGRAPHY: PHYSICAL]
4594 Instruments and techniques [OCEANOGRAPHY: PHYSICAL]
4599 General or miscellaneous [OCEANOGRAPHY: PHYSICAL]
  • A - Air-sea Interactions and Upper Ocean Processes
  • ED - Education and Outreach
  • IS - Instrumentation & Sensing Technologies
  • PO - Physical Oceanography/Ocean Circulation