Imagine living in a world where natural gas in liquid form falls out of the sky as you look up. This of course is no imagination coming from man rather it’s known as Titan! A small moon compared to Saturn itself, about the size of Mercury has a robust weather pattern. Scientists have observed cloud cover over Titan’s vast dune fields as reported in science this week and covered in various news outlets (here and here).
“When photos showed a large patch near the equator of Titan mysteriously darken and then grow lighter within a couple of weeks, scientists knew something big was happening on Saturn’s largest moon. But what they found was something they didn’t expect: a methane rainstorm in a region of Titan thought to be covered by vast, arid dunes.”
“While the large moon is known to have methane lakes at its north and south poles, scientists thought Titan’s equatorial region was mostly dry, but the likely cause of the darkness was determined to be an outburst of clouds and methane rain — which suggests Titan’s equator has a rainy season.”
The weather pattern various from a drizzle to a flood in some areas. Observations of clouds changing in brightness were detected by the space probe Cassini from October of 2010 to January 2011. The clouds covered an estimate of 1000 km but left no evidence of standing liquid on the ground. Since Titan’s atmosphere is considered similar to that of earth, it was a bit of a surprise to discover a weather pattern near or on the equator that shows long dry spells rather than a tropical pattern observed on earth.
Perhaps Cassini is causing man-made global warming on Titan! Maybe future probes will have to go through emission tests first before being sent out in space so this problem doesn’t happen again! In all seriousness though, for some reason the clouds do not remain near the equator for long but most likely was able to wet the surface a bit without leaving puddles.
Not surprisingly, none of the publications discuss the age issue, because its easier to have a dogma set in place than to test the real issue. It would be reasonable to find evidence of vast deposits of precipitation if cloudbursts have been going on for millions or even billions of years! The channels do seem to reflect the drainage channels as being formed by current active weather patterns rather than relics of past epochs which makes Titan much younger than 4.5 billion years old!
How could scientists who believe in old ago dogma test the issue? After all, theoretical physicists are in the process of trying to come up with a formula to fit natural-only models of galaxy formation from contradictory evidence such as mature galaxies and stars being discovered in part of the universe where it’s considered immature. The answer to what scientists could do to test the old age dogma in order to have a better understanding is this, they could model what the conditions on Titan would be expected to look like after billions of years and ask whether the model fits current observations!