Tech & Science Scientists Recreate Titan’s Methane Ocean In Lab

15:39  08 february  2018
15:39  08 february  2018 Source:   ibtimes.com

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Scientists Recreate Titan ’ s Methane Ocean In Lab . Earliest Northern Europeans Were Dark-Skinned. While the animal was discovered a few months ago, its potential age was revealed in a study in the journal Science .

Scientists have recreated the ocean of Saturn’ s moon Titan in the laboratory in an attempt to determine how an autonomous submarine would The engineering is even trickier because, unlike the nearly homogeneous water in earth-based oceans , the concentration of ethane and methane can

Sunlight glints off of Titan’s northern seas in this near-infrared, color mosaic from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. © Provided by IBT US Sunlight glints off of Titan’s northern seas in this near-infrared, color mosaic from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Saturn’s moon Titan is only second in size to Jupiter’s Ganymede, in the list of the largest moons in the solar system, but it is the largest body after Earth that has stable liquid surface oceans. The liquid in question is not water, however; it is methane, and NASA plans to send an autonomous submarine to study it, sometime in the next 20 years.

To further the study of Titan, which NASA has been analyzing using data collected by the Cassini mission, scientists at Washington State University recreated a methane ocean in a laboratory. To be exact, the WSU researchers built a test chamber filled with a “liquid mixture at very cold temperatures to simulate the seas of Titan. They added a two-inch, cylinder-shaped cartridge heater that would approximate the heat that a submarine would create.”

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To further the study of Titan , which NASA has been analyzing using data collected by the Cassini mission, scientists at Washington State University recreated a methane ocean in a laboratory .

Scientists are sending a submarine to space to study Titan ’ s oceans . To practice, they built the ocean in a lab . NASA’s Crazy Plan to Send a Space Submarine

The research team was led by Ian Richardson, a former WSU graduate student who interned at NASA. During the internship, which was on an unrelated subject, he was asked by a NASA scientist about the problem of designing a submarine for Titan.

“My research just took a right turn, and I went with it. It’s a crazy experiment, and I never thought I would have had this opportunity. It’s been a very fun and challenging experimental design problem,” Richardson said in a statement Wednesday.

Two of the biggest problems the researchers came across while designing the test chamber were the formation of bubbles and capturing videos at the temperature which was very far below freezing.

If the future submarine is powered by a heat-generating mechanism, it would form nitrogen bubbles in the very cold liquid seas of Titan, which are made up of methane-ethane at a temperature of almost 300 degrees Fahrenheit below zero. These bubbles would hinder navigation of the submarine, and also make it difficult for onboard instruments to take images and collect data.

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The lakes of Titan , Saturn' s largest moon, are bodies of liquid ethane and methane that have been detected by the Cassini–Huygens space probe, and had been suspected long before.

Titan isn’t covered in water, it’ s covered in methane — frigid, liquid methane . As such, they’ve teamed up with scientists at Washington State University to recreate the moon’ s methane ocean in a laboratory .

Even in the absence of bubbles, taking images and videos of the surroundings would be a challenging task, given the extreme cold, as well as pressure that is comparable to being under 30 meters (100 feet) of water. Fortunately, the presence of a small amount of nitrogen lowers the overall freezing temperature of the liquid from about minus 297 degrees Fahrenheit to minus 324 degrees Fahrenheit.

“That’s a big deal. That means you don’t have to worry about icebergs,’’ Richardson said in the statement.

The researchers worked around the temperature and pressure problems, and came up with a device that allowed them to capture video footage from inside the test chamber filled with liquid and snow methane-ethane.

Their findings appeared online Saturday in the journal Fluid Phase Equilibria, in a paper titled “Experimental PρT-x measurements of liquid methane-ethane-nitrogen mixtures.” NASA Glenn Research Center was also involved in the study.

“These measurements are being used to aid in thermodynamic modeling of the Titan seas as well as the design of the Titan Submarine,” the paper said of its findings.

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