Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Lake Titan

I'm still not getting much of a chance to blog right now. My husband is taking the week off from his day job so that we can work on getting things put to rights in the construction zone that is our back yard. We didn't get to insulate or Sheetrock the garage/shop yet, because the inspector didn't show up till yesterday, but we've been making progress all the same. We put a retaining wall in all the way to the back of the shop over the weekend, got it back-filled and the path that runs along it constructed yesterday, and are starting the wallboard inside this morning. We, of course, chose a heat wave to push into full manual labor mode, making the whole process a lot stickier, but progress is progress, and we're grateful to be moving ahead. We're especially glad my Darling's back is holding up after his recent infirmity. So far, so good.

I'm not getting much reading in, but I did get a fun little alert from NASA this morning. "The Cassini spacecraft, using its radar system, has discovered very strong evidence for hydrocarbon lakes on Titan [Titan being one of Saturn's moons]. Dark patches, which resemble terrestrial lakes, seem to be sprinkled all over the high latitudes surrounding Titan's north pole. " They're still guessing what these lakes are made of, probably liquid methane or ethane, and they're still not sure that the dark patches are actually liquid lakes, but the evidence is pointing in that direction.

Scientists will continue to observe the areas, looking for evidence like changes in size, or surface roughness stirred by winds, to indicate whether they've guessed correctly. If they're right, Titan is "the only body in the solar system besides Earth known to possess lakes." Not exactly the place you'd want to go for a summer vacation. One usually heads to a lake for fresh air and exercise, but Titan's not really a fresh air environment, is it? All that methane and ethane might make it a little hard to head out for a hike, or row a canoe, wouldn't you say? What a shame; it would be such an adventure to head to a lakeside cabin off-world. Oh well, there's got to be a bright side, right? Hmmm, liquid methane...liquid methane...sounds like a possible built-in fuel depot to me. That's it!! Titan can be the gas station on the way to some other cool vacation spot that we'll discover any day now. It's not quite as fun as finding Shangri-La on some other planet, but it will have to do.