greygirlbeast (greygirlbeast) wrote,

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The lakes of Titan, and a bug named Eophyllium

Some days, I almost feel there is no wonder left to be found. Others, I trip over it at every turn. Fortunately, today was a day of the latter sort. To wit:

Titan Has Liquid Lakes, Scientists Report in Nature. My thanks to corucia for the PDF of the full Nature article. And there's a photo from the JPL (behind the cut), a most amazing photograph, indeed:

"Radar imaging data from the flyby, published this week in the journal Nature, provide convincing evidence for large bodies of liquid. This image, used on the journal's cover, gives a taste of what Cassini saw. Intensity in this colorized image is proportional to how much radar brightness is returned, or more specifically, the logarithm of the radar backscatter cross-section. The colors are not a representation of what the human eye would see.

The lakes, darker than the surrounding terrain, are emphasized here by tinting regions of low backscatter in blue. Radar-brighter regions are shown in tan. The strip of radar imagery is foreshortened to simulate an oblique view of the highest latitude region, seen from a point to its west.

This radar image was acquired by the Cassini radar instrument in synthetic aperture mode on July 22, 2006. The image is centered near 80 degrees north, 35 degrees west and is about 140 kilometers (84 miles) across. Smallest details in this image are about 500 meters (1,640 feet) across."

Also, the famous Eocene-aged Messel oil shales of Germany have given up another gem, Eophyllium messelensis, the earliest evidence of a leaf-mimicking insect.

Also also, it's not too late to vote in the second Cassini photo contest, to help pick the most spectacular image yet captured by the probe as it orbits Saturn and her moons. For my part, I'm torn between "Mapping Titan's Changes" and "Ringside with Dione."
Tags: astronomy, cassini, entomology, eocene, messel, paleo, saturn, titan

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