A moon of Saturn may have 'tropical' lakes
This color-enhanced composite image shows Titan's atmosphere encircling the orange moon.
June 13th, 2012
03:52 PM ET

A moon of Saturn may have 'tropical' lakes

They might not be fit for humans to swim in, but "tropical" lakes may exist on one of Saturn's moons that could harbor tiny organisms.

Scientists report Wednesday in the journal Nature that the moon Titan may have methane lakes among the dunes that pervade the tropics, the region of the moon between 20 degrees of latitude north and 20 degrees of latitude south.

Like Earth, Titan has clouds, rain and lakes, though they're made up of methane instead of water.

Scientists theorize that the conditions on Titan, which is the only moon in our solar system with an atmosphere, are capable of harboring microbial life, suggesting that organisms could live in methane lakes, as they do in water lakes on Earth.

Until recently, Titan's lakes have been observed only outside the tropical region, above 50 degrees north and below 50 degrees south. Scientists analyzed spectra of Titan's tropics gathered by the Cassini spacecraft between October 2004 and December 2008, which indicate a dark surface consistent with liquid methane.

The data suggest that a liquid methane lake present in an otherwise dune-filled, arid region of Titan. This lake would be about 2,400 square kilometers, or 927 square miles (by comparison, New York City is on 305 square miles of land).

The same Nature report discounts the possibility that the observed lake is a rain puddle, since it is present in data from 2004, before the end of Titan's dry season and the arrival of methane clouds and storms in the area. Since methane lakes aren't stable in the tropical region, the indication is that the lake is fed by an underground liquid methane stream.

These data, together with studies of other methane lakes on Titan, indicate that there's probably a subterranean source of liquid that releases methane into the moon's atmosphere and onto the surface.

Related: Rover bound for intriguing crater on Mars

Follow @CNNLightYears on Twitter

- CNN's Elizabeth Landau contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Discoveries • In Space
soundoff (214 Responses)
  1. foreclosure in california what happens

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    November 2, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
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    September 26, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
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    August 6, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  5. Martin Ferko


    June 15, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
  6. Bummer

    What if there isn't any "life" and nothing resembling "heaven" out there? This is what you should be preparing to accept. They're squinting their eyes looking for the face of Jesus on a distant rock and you're praying to find a worm that lives in methane gas so you won't feel all alone. What if there is no other place to go, we're just stuck here for a brief period until we finally kill ourselves-and nothing in the whole universe (or on earth) will care?
    What if space is only the realm of inquisitive dreamers and the suicidal rich, looking for a new vacation thrill?
    Maybe Jimmi Hendrix was right when he moaned; "there ain't no life, nowhere".?

    June 14, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • freecheese

      Be prepared for some enviornmenatlist Kollifornia professor to propose that we should send space ships up to those planets to get the water - BECAUSE WE ARE RUNNING OUT OF WATER ON EARTH !

      June 14, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • Fan of Jimi

      The aliens surveying Earth in "Third Stone From the Sun" said "there aint no life nowhere" because they didnt consider earthlings worthy to be described as "Life" with all of our wars, greed, hate etc. Jimi was a very spiritual guy, he mentions God in many of his songs – I dont think he was saying that there isnt life, physical or otherwise, besides that on earth.

      June 16, 2012 at 1:02 am |
  7. sumdude

    And exactly how is this "new" news? Anyone who follows this type of stuff will know that it was first speculated upon over a decade ago and has been widely accepted as fact for a couple of years now. What kind of "breaking news" will you have for us next? Possibly that the moon is not really made of cheese? Get back to us when you get some info that isn't already considered old by even text book standards.

    June 14, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  8. Jimmy Stewart

    Sure. It's called keeping government grants alive on earth. There's no life on that moon. It's kind of interesting to learn about the planets and the moon but you won't find life out there. Life is only on planet earth. I know I'm narrow minded.

    June 14, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  9. Ron

    So?...And...Just how much is this "theory" going to cost me in the form of government welfare grants to these "scientists" who never seem to actually produce anything?

    June 14, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Rocket Man

      About ½% of what it cost in government welfare to pay to useless people to produce nothing-except MORE useless people. If its all the same to anyone else, I'd rather pay the scientists.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Jason Blankenship

      If "these scientists" didn't push the boundaries of human discovery you wouldn't have half the things you use on a daily basis today. Just because they aren't making anything with a discovery like this, doesn't mean it's not beneficial to humanity and it also doesn't mean that future beneficial technologies won't come out of similar discoveries. You need to open your mind and realize that what we spend on science, as a whole, is a pittance to what we spend on almost everything else. Sad really.

      June 14, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  10. stopthe

    What is actually mind-boggling is that some people are incapable of handling wonder, and instead let it turn to incredulity - that other hobgoblin of little minds - and so need to posit a "God" to explain everything and make it manageable and consistent for them. Go back to your cave, troglodyte.

    June 14, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • squiggy9000

      Well, then. Some super genius named "stopthe" says belief in a higher power is stupid. I'm sure you've almost convinced yourself by now.

      June 14, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • George

      This is my favorite atheist argument. That people of faith believe only because they are narrow minded and can't conceptualize the wonder of the universe.

      I always want to rebut that atheists only disbelieve because they can not conceptualize something outside the realm of our observation – but then I remember that it's wrong to make generalizations.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  11. Hugh Beaumont

    Tropical lakes on Saturn's moons? HAHAHAAHAH!!!!
    Some people will believe anything, and some people will do anything to get their grants extended. This is the problem with scientists – they're bull chuckers.

    June 14, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  12. GetOutOfHere

    More Rosetta, less Stone.

    June 14, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  13. linda1964

    well, unfortunately, obama cancelled NASA, so we'll probly never know much more about our solar system....

    June 14, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • PF

      Sometimes /facepalm just isnt enough...

      June 14, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Afterburner

      Nullified Aeronautics and Space Administration

      June 14, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
      • Thin

        Posted on I think any savvy company that has an asstoiaced blog knows that keeping the blog's chocolate out of the corporate peanut butter is a good thing for everybody. By virtue of a blog's blogginess, it lives in a different world than a simple newsfeed does, and not treating it like it does or like the blogger is on the payroll to serve some specific corporate agenda is what keeps a blog authentic and relevant and subscribed to. People read The Beat because they want to read Heidi MacDonald and not because they necessarily care about the rest of Publisher's Weekly.

        August 2, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
  14. linda1964

    and what's that got to do with anything?

    June 14, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • Susan

      Sorry, you also need: from circuits.net.pollers imrpot EPollI also tried the same test on a monster 2x quad core xeon 5520httperf –hog –timeout=60 –client=0/1 –server=localhost –port=10000 –uri=/ –rate=400 –send-buffer=4096 –recv-buffer=16384 –num-conns=40000 –num-calls=1 Maximum connect burst length: 1Total: connections 40000 requests 40000 replies 40000 test-duration 100.001 sConnection rate: 400.0 conn/s (2.5 ms/conn, FD_SETSIZE; limiting max. # of open files to FD_SETSIZEMaximum connect burst length: 40Total: connections 40000 requests 39975 replies 20859 test-duration 114.926 sConnection rate: 348.0 conn/s (2.9 ms/conn, <=26959 concurrent connections) Connection time [ms]: min 233.0 avg 6634.8 max 72470.5 median 3327.5 stddev 9396.5 Connection time [ms]: connect 4989.3 Connection length [replies/conn]: 1.000Request rate: 347.8 req/s (2.9 ms/req) Request size [B]: 62.0Reply rate [replies/s]: min 0.0 avg 189.6 max 1384.3 stddev 392.4 (22 samples) Reply time [ms]: response 3230.8 transfer 0.0 Reply size [B]: header 38.0 content 5.0 footer 0.0 (total 43.0) Reply status: 1xx=0 2xx=20859 3xx=0 4xx=0 5xx=0CPU time [s]: user 2.43 system 112.48 (user 2.1% system 97.9% total 100.0%) Net I/O: 28.7 KB/s (0.2*10^6 bps)Errors: total 19141 client-timo 583 socket-timo 0 connrefused 0 connreset 18558 Errors: fd-unavail 0 addrunavail 0 ftab-full 0 other 0

      August 3, 2012 at 5:07 am |
  15. rc

    and inhabited by a race of lounge lizards bent on getting even with scholarship athletes and fraternity boy drunks...by excluding them from the bunkers

    June 14, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  16. ByteRider

    SOME?! How about all of them?

    We could even pack a few climatologists on board to tell them that their new moon home is getting warmer.

    June 14, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
  17. WALTC

    Not being big on science, this may be a stupid question, but how do they know it's methane and not water? And if it is methane, would it be possible for us to harvest it in the future? How about use it to power and control a human friendly environment to support a colony?

    June 14, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • Nick C.

      Well one way is because the temperature. Water cannot exist as a liquid under 0 degrees Celsius. As for methane, the dark spots correlating to pools of methane would make sense, for when the planetary object is thermally induced by the sun, it may be enough to cause methane to evaporate into its gaseous state.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
      • WALTC

        That makes sense. Thanks for the explanation Nick.

        June 14, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
      • SmartyPants

        Wrong. Water can remain liquid below 0 degrees celsius at different pressures and purity levels.

        June 14, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
      • George

        Also the refraction of the light through the atmosphere. An atmosphere with suspended water will refract light differently than an atmosphere with suspended methane.

        Harvesting the methane would probably prove inefficient. It would certainly be so at our current technology level.

        June 14, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Colligavit Nemo


      June 14, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
      • whodat1

        spectroscopy and the fact that we have already sent probes there and sampled it.

        June 14, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  18. Stephen

    Open-minded individuals interested in the possibility of contacting intelligent life may find this interesting...


    June 14, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
  19. ratonis

    Really cool discussion. From the moons of Saturn to farts. Gotta love it.

    June 14, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  20. Karen

    Check with Andy of Eureka. He's been there.

    June 14, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • squiggy9000

      And for some reason, the writers didn't finish that storyline. This sucks!

      June 14, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  21. BookWorm

    Nicely done! Sounds like a nicely place to sit and read a book. Very nicely sounding place.

    June 14, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  22. Dr9Love

    The fact that hydrocarbons exist on other bodies in the solar system seems to strengthen abiotic oil theory, although there is minimal proof of that on earth. Although abiotic oil is a valid scientific theory, it is mainly doubted, but is an interesting topic to investigate.

    June 14, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • William Carls

      I agree with the abiotic theory because there is no evidence of surface life forms that could creat a methane atmosphere; so subsurface biotic activity would be a good conclusion.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
    • BcdErick

      The fact that hydrocarbons exist on other bodies in the solar system seems to strengthen abiotic oil theory, although there is minimal proof of that on earth. Although abiotic oil is a valid scientific theory, it is mainly doubted, but is an interesting topic to investigate.

      What? Are you sitting there with thesaurus/encyclopedia and pretending to be smart? "Abiotic" oil theory? That died 100 years ago and nobody cares about it now.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
      • squiggy9000

        Fine. Then by now (it's been a hundred years, after all) you know how methane is created on frozen moons (frozen dinosaurs?.) Please learn us troglodytes up, kay?

        June 14, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  23. Brian Williams

    This article inspires me! Maybe we could sent a shoe to explore Uranus! Maybe there would be a tropical or maybe only a sub tropical methane lake.

    June 14, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Brian Williams


      June 14, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
  24. vejer

    ok,,so we as a race can't get there now,,not anytime in the near future,,or even our life times,,,but,,it is interesting to know.anyone out there ever hear of helium 3?contact me at bthree6@yahoo.co.uk if you have,,,thanks

    June 14, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • TheOtherEmpire

      Well not you Americans, you're too poor.

      June 14, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  25. john

    aren't we scientists an odd bunch, "tropical" heh by what standard venus?

    June 14, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Dustin.Goldsen@yahoo.com

      The word "tropic" describes a band on the planet near the equator where the sun (or star it is orbiting) is directly overhead at some point during the planet's yearly orbit. It is warm relative to other points on the planet's surface.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  26. ironfray

    Yeah! Because the universe shouldn't contain any form of humor at all!

    June 14, 2012 at 11:47 am |
  27. Old Engineer

    So how come if there is life in a methane lake on a moon with a methane atmosphere, if I buy an incandescent light bulb we are all gonna die? Or if a farmer's cow passes its methane?

    June 14, 2012 at 11:35 am |
  28. BcdErick

    Do little green men swim in them?

    June 14, 2012 at 11:33 am |
  29. Mark F

    Methane? Isn't that a "fossil fuel" according to greenies? Then, life must have existed there for there to be fossil fuel! Ether that or maybe calling natural gas a "fossil fuel" is a mistake.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • D

      Pretty sure you're incorrect on that assessment. In more ways than one.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:31 am |
    • jkflipflop

      Wow. That's not what it means at all.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:31 am |
      • Stif

        we've had this conversation berofe do landfills produce more methane than composting? Is keeping yard waste separate from other trash a smart move, or should we throw it all in

        July 31, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
    • jamesrechtet

      Well, I wouldn't call my farts a fossil fuel.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • Nick J

      Methane isn't a fossil fuel, it's a natural gas.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • seth

      I'm gonna assume here you aren't a scientist.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:46 am |
      • chedwiggins

        I'm going to assume that your conjecture is: only a scientist can understand nature?

        June 14, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Greg

      Methane is created in a cows gut when it digests ORGANIC materials, like grass.... Landfills moniter the air for methane and they have methane wells to flare the methane gas off......again organic material being digested by bacteria........so what does that mean, means God has created some really cool stuff.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
      • GGesus

        Actually, methane can be created by more than 1 process, some of which don't necessarily entail an organism making it. The presence of methane doesn't necessarily mean life once existed on that planet.

        June 14, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  30. FrayedJeff

    0_0 HA! Citation needed.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:20 am |
  31. Jerri

    New avatar, Bill? Playing the other side now?

    June 14, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  32. Jerri

    now you got it all. Good job Bill!

    June 14, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  33. realtalker1

    And just in time for my vacation. A week at the lake is just what I need.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  34. Chris R

    DJ, While he did make an ignorant statement the methane is essentially useless as a fuel source. It would simple be far too expensive to be practical. Methane is cheap and easily found on the Earth. Trying to get it from Triton would cost trillions of dollars in lift capacity, infrastructure, and so forth. Outside of the realm of science fiction it's just a non-starter in terms of exploitation.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:00 am |
  35. Jerri

    Typical ignorant thinking! Way to interject politics into this really cool science article. Just doing your job I guess, steering the story down the paths your bosses tell you to?

    June 14, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  36. Dj

    ... and smelled methane.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  37. derp

    very original. Can we send all the religious nuts and politicians there with people like you that still believe one party is better then another...

    June 14, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  38. Doc

    Methane Lake? So, it's the Bog of Eternal Stench.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Dj

      1000 internets to you sir.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • GT

      Methane gas is odorless.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • sirfartsalot


      June 14, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  39. Human Alien

    Very cool – I love hearing about this stuff.

    The planet supposedly consists of ice and rock with liquid methane lakes. Large ice mountains with liquid methane lakes and rivers.

    Must be spectacular.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:30 am |
  40. dick prudlo

    This is a big deal? Read Genesis and you will find the term "waters above the firmament." This means water beyond.......
    The fact "science" will not tell you is that in order to keep the degree Kelvin steady throughout the universe you have water to keep the universe cool enough. SO IT WILL NOT BLOWUP.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • euskaldun

      It is unfortunate that you do not seem to understand much about astronomy and astrophysics and the nature of the universe. Your statement about water and the temperature of the universe is incoherent.

      I suggest you do some study of astronomy. I suggest "Sky and Telescope" and "Astronomy" magazines as an excellent source of knowledge...

      June 14, 2012 at 10:37 am |
      • Joe R

        His science may be weak but his knowledge of Scripture is spot on. Genesis clearly tells us that water was everywhere in the universe so we are not surprised that there is or may be water on other planets. No matter what we find we will surely always be astonished at how precise the Bible is which only points to the Creator and makes this nonsense about evolution laughable!

        June 14, 2012 at 10:52 am |
      • D

        Uh, Joe, liquid methane is NOT the same thing as water. HUGE difference between the two.

        June 14, 2012 at 11:33 am |
      • ironfray

        Lol.. so because the bible says water is everywhere.. and water IS everywhere in the universe, suddenly that's proof that the bible God exists? How about, there's iron all over the universe.. there's hydrogen all over the universe.. there's nitrogen all over the universe.. Mind you, back then people thought the universe was our solar system. Even in modern times, people thought the universe was the Milky Way. And the part where he states that water is needed to KEEP the universe cool so it doesn't explode? Holy cow.. I don't even know where to begin on this..

        June 14, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • derp

      Yes, science is not your strong suit.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • CW

      Please, say no to crack.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • bthumble

      Silly person. Waters above the firmament was the way the primitive Hebrews tried to explain where rain came from since they were not aware of the process of evaporation and the rain cycle. It is never a good idea to derive your facts from a fairy tale.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:16 am |
      • Joe R

        Look who's silly. Read the Bible and you will find that evaporation was already explained. You just don't know what you are talking about. See the book of Job which is loaded with scientific facts that could only have been explained Supernaturally. My money is on Biblical Theology. Naturalistic science is limited in its understanding as it ignores the supernatural. And that's just sad considering that the Bible is largely responsible for the enlightenment of men's minds.
        Evolution is a fool's game. Things cannot create themselves. Living beings cannot give themselves life. Get with it folks and stop this fairy tale nonsense that ignores a supernatural Creator.

        June 14, 2012 at 11:43 am |
      • ironfray

        The level of brain wash is astounding. I'm happy I left religion years ago, after questioning inconsistencies and applying what the universe designed my brain to be.. logical.

        June 14, 2012 at 11:59 am |
      • Religion

        Joe I am sure Biblical Theologians will be happy to take your money. Bible people are particularity good at that part.

        June 14, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
      • D

        LOL, if anyone is buying into fairytales here, it would be Mr Joe!

        June 14, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
      • Wraith

        Joe, what are people like you going to do when life is discovered (even if it is only microbial) on another planet?

        June 14, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
      • jas

        News flash folks... and this pertains to both sides. Disparaging remarks towards people's beliefs do not make them "wake up" or suddenlyl go "yeah... I guess you're right, it must be a fairy tale, I must be brainwashed". It simply puts people on the defensive and the whole point of the conversation gets lost because people's sole focus is now on what was said and how it was said. Try going into a forum where being gay is the topic and frame your opinion using belittling adjectives and see where that gets you... or a political forum... or any type of forum for that matter. We all know the old saying about opinions, and we do have freedom of speech, but someone's point of view stated in any way that people can perceive as an attack on their character is just going to tarnish the point. If I say I believe in God and then get 5 replies saying I'm brainwashed and believing a fairy tale... trust me... I'm just gonna write you off as a bully and a jerk. I'm going to completely ignore your view and maybe make things worse by saying something offensive back to you (and again, I say this to both sides of the discussion). OK, so I believe what I believe and I'm a total stranger to you... what on Earth is the point of trying to convince me otherwise anyway? You'll never hear from me again. Nonetheless, even if I assume you are trying to come from a good place and help me out in life by not following a pipe dream, there has to be a better way to get through to me without insulting me and vice versa... Unless you really don't care and are just trying to be funny or you're just really bitter about the whole subject and are lashing out... It still accomplishes very little.

        June 14, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • intelactually

      And we wonder why Americans are so scientifically illiterate....

      June 14, 2012 at 11:24 am |
      • Bvdon

        False premise. Enjoy your American Internet, iGadget, computer, OS, Hubble views and military defense.....and kindly respect the country that drives progress world wide.

        June 14, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • jkflipflop

      You know that feeling you have when you hear Pakistanis talking about how they're supposed to martyr themselves and in return they get a gaggle of virgins?

      That's what we sane people feel towards you right now.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • jamesrechtet

      I laughed so hard at this, I think I caused a methane leak.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • seth

      You're confusing religion and science. Scripture was never written to be scientifically accurate in a modern sense. It was written as parables to convey universal truths in a story form. When modern believers try to fit scripture into their limited modern sensibilities, they confuse the intent of the writings. To attempt to draw literal or "factual" evidence from scripture is a mistake and in some cases borders on heresy. Don't miss the forest for the trees.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:39 am |
      • Joe R

        Nonsense Seth. You are compartmentalizing things. Religion and science can be used together to explain the things God created and how He made things to work. Scripture is scientifically accurate. Isaiah 40:22.

        June 14, 2012 at 11:45 am |
      • seth

        Joe: The verse you linked states: "It is he that sitteth upon the vault of the earth and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers, that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in." Like I said, it's a metaphorical, poetic story that can be true without being scientific. God sits above the earth and stretches out the heavens as a tent above, an obvious metaphor that the entire world is God's tabernacle.

        June 14, 2012 at 11:56 am |
      • ironfray

        I'm still baffled as to how God has male genitals.

        June 14, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
      • seth

        Joe: That verse is actually a good point. If you use the translation of "ḥūḡ" to mean "circle," and then say that the verse "proves" that the ancient Israelites believed the world was a sphere, you miss the whole point. The point is that God sits above the earth and spreads out the heavens like a tent, or dwelling, or a holy tabernacle. You can't pitch a tent on a sphere, so then you lose the entire point of the poem. The point is to picture a flat plane with all the people of the world as grasshoppers and the sky and stars above like the canvas of a tent that God set up for us to dwell in and worship in. You want to trade that beautiful and spiritual imagery for a cold, meaningless "proof" that the Bible said the earth was round? What do you gain by doing that except some points for Team Christian? You lose all the meaning and truth of scripture when you try and shape it to be a textbook. The Bible doesn't teach Truth through science. It teaches it on a different plane, through spiritual imagery, poetry and mystery. It can be True without being factual.

        June 14, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
      • seth

        ironfray: haha God doesn't have genitals. The idea of God as male is just that it's a paternal, fatherly type of representation. Culturally in the ancient world, tribes were related by blood and led by a fatherly figure. So by being male, God represented being a leader, a progenitor, and the person who created us (but interestingly, didn't bear us - the earth did, as God formed man from the earth). God as Heavenly Father is full of imagery since everyone has a father (though that isn't always the healthy relationship it should be).

        June 14, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
      • remnant13

        I imagine "science" and the "Creator" will meet in the middle at some point. I think F. Capra (physicist) said, at (~) science is "out-dimensioned" at some point – at which point – it must be recognized that there is a Supreme Being/Intelligence. I'm also into the abiotic theory of so called "fossil fuels" – how in the world would a mass grave of anything produce such a soup, whereas, tectonic friction might wring the liquid from the sponge.

        June 14, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • SilentBoy741

      Sir, the text you're referring to describes the Chevy Nova, not a Stellar Nova.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Dan-tet

      Except that's not what it means. The firmament separating the waters above from the waters below is the sky separating the rain waters from the ground waters. We now KNOW that rian doesn't come from "above the sky". We know that both rain and ground water participate in the great Water Cycle.

      And besides, it was never, EVER, supposed to mean "water in space". That's just dumb.

      June 14, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • TheOtherEmpire

      The Law of Entropy is proof that God exist, you don't need a bible to tell you that.

      June 14, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  41. bob


    June 14, 2012 at 9:56 am |
  42. krusaderrabbit

    You are right. Speculation is not science. So much of what passes as science these days is just that. BTW, you're sarcasm was unfounded.

    June 14, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • rhysem

      All science is speculation. That's how it starts: Question, Hypothesis, Theory, Law. Without speculation there can BE no science.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:36 am |
      • whodat1

        Unless you're a AGW scientist. Then it's: Theory, Law, The science is settled!

        June 14, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  43. James

    To those saying that life can't live in those conditions: there are microbes on Earth that live in sulfuric acid. There is life deep in the ocean that can live at ridiculous temperatures. Life can exist in much stranger environments...it doesn't always need oxygen and nitrogen to live.

    As Dr. Ian Malcolm once said: "Life will find a way."

    June 14, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • Sparkhustle

      Actually, I think to further your point, I think I remember watching something about crustacean like organisms living solely in and around methane vents in the ocean. I could be way off on that though, it's been a while.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
    • Aiden

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      August 2, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
  44. Sean Patriot

    I cant wait for us to set foot on this foreign land, conquer it, exploit it, and eat its inhabitants.

    June 14, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • Yirmin Snipe

      Hmmm... tastes like chicken.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • ironfray

      No.. we'll just go there, make crop circles then leave.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:29 am |
      • HereOnEarth

        And give those microbes evidence that we big various-shades-of-brown men from Earth exist? Not on your life!

        June 14, 2012 at 11:49 am |
      • ironfray

        True.. we don't want those microbes mounting an offensive on Earth. They're so tiny, we won't know they're here till things start randomly blowing up.

        June 14, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
      • Cadde

        samuel cordrey the whole point of lietrby is that people are allowed to do things that you find offensive (e.g. dancing at a memorial) and you can do things that other people find offensive (e.g. practice your religion / abortion / smoking).When the state mandates what you may and may not do via legislation that is called tyranny.Did the supreme court not rule that those religious zealots who protest at the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq/Afghanistan are ALLOWED to protest at those funerals?Yes you may not like it, it may not be morally' or ethically' right' either, but the question is do you want to live in a country where the STATE can mandate whether your behaviour is acceptable'?If you do then ask yourself 150 years ago when you were black and the STATE deemed YOU.. just by being black' were unacceptable' or 70 years ago.. when the state deemed Jews/ Gypsies and Gays' as being unacceptable' and subject to being removed from the planet.

        September 13, 2012 at 12:51 am |
  45. cecil nims

    Methane? Could it be that this moon has a lot of cows on it? Can't imagine going there, as it would be like living in the midst of a giant fart.

    June 14, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • Hybridhor


      June 14, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • Butchie67

      Methane is a colorless ordorless gas. Try again, this time put some science in your humor.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:17 am |
      • ironfray

        Early mornings without coffee makes me cranky too Butchie.

        June 14, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  46. Pup

    Wait, aren't farts just methane gas? So you're telling me there might be some bacteria living in a lake of liquid fart? Sure, sounds plausible.

    June 14, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • slimBodidicus

      Gas can contain methane. If it does, it will likely be smelly, indicating an unhealthy gut that is not breaking down food completely.
      Most gas is simply air that has been swallowed and passes through the digestive track.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • James Orleans

      Methane has no smell. The fart smell is added so that gas leaks are easily detected (from pipes).

      June 14, 2012 at 9:44 am |
      • L


        June 14, 2012 at 11:15 am |
      • SilentBoy741

        Ha, I see what you did there. L, do a little reading on the "propane" smell. And set your Satire Filter down about 2 notches.

        June 14, 2012 at 11:56 am |
      • Robert

        Actually this is RIGHT. Methane is a colorless and odorless gas. Like Natural gas, an odor is added in order to detect leaks.

        June 14, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  47. ignorant one

    I have a question here, If the planet is made of methane and we land a ship there, what is to say a spark from a switch doesnt take out the whole moon? it is methane no?

    June 14, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • Jupiter?

      Read the blog. No Oxygen = no fire!

      June 14, 2012 at 9:32 am |
      • SoulCatcher

        and it would really suck if those organisms produced oxygen (photosynthesis). Boom!

        June 14, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • Alex R.

      You would need a whole lot of Oxygen for that to happen my friend. And I mean a lLOT!

      June 14, 2012 at 9:39 am |
      • TechDel

        There was a time before photosynthesis that the earth had no oxygen either. But, I'm betting there is none on this moon becuase if there were, sometime over the last billion years or so something would have created a spark.and turned the thing into a meteor shower.

        June 14, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • TC Smythe

      without the presence of at least a little oxygen, ignition can't occur at all. But you are thinking in the right direction..

      June 14, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • GasPredictor

      It is thought that this process on earth was the first life-produced natural disaster. Not that there was an explosion, but as photosynthesis (slowly) began introducing oxygen into the methane-rich environment, the methane was oxidized over millennia until there was essentially none left. Organisms that needed methane and could not tolerate highly reactive oxygen became extinct, and life as we presently know it took hold.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:42 am |
      • Joe R

        all by itself?

        June 14, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  48. Chris

    Methane is odorless. The smell you associate with farts and natural gas is low concentrations of sulfur compounds. Tert-butyl thiol is used to give natural gas the odor you are familiar with.

    June 14, 2012 at 9:14 am |
  49. Farscape

    Democracy is secondary to civil rights. Unless of course you also support slavery and denying women the right to vote. Being from TX it wouldn’t surprise me.

    June 14, 2012 at 9:11 am |
  50. Newyorker

    It would smell like farts if you could live long enough after breathing it to have an opinion.

    June 14, 2012 at 9:08 am |
  51. john

    Another CNN article that fails to provide minimal information that people need. We know Tropical as referring to an area on earth 20 or so degrees N and S of the equator where the temperature in comparatively hot. Therefore it would be nice to mention the surface temperature of Saturn in the "tropical" zone for the sake of comparison.

    June 14, 2012 at 9:07 am |
    • doktorwise

      All this requires is an email address.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:26 am |
      • john

        Congratulations. You qualify for a CNN job.

        June 14, 2012 at 9:32 am |
      • jamesrechtet

        ROFL! Derp!

        June 14, 2012 at 9:38 am |
      • francis

        Musta been a whale of lot of really big dinosaurs to generate that much methane... fossil fuel .. right?

        June 14, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • Frank Tillery

      Why do we need it? They were providing information that heretofore was unknown to most. These articles are meant to be informative but when you are talking about a moon that is over 9 AU in distance from the sun, it is hard to know everything.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • JS

      Unless the state of education in this country is even worse than I thought, most people will know that if liquid methane is present, it's going to be a lot colder than what we would consider "tropical", of course the quotes around tropical, and the mention that it's not fit for humans to swim in might also be a clue. I don't think listing the temperature (if it's known with enough precision anyhow) is necessary.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:37 am |
      • Jupiter?

        I think that CNN meant "Ecuator" instead of "Tropical"... Or maybe they know somthing that we dont!

        June 14, 2012 at 9:43 am |
      • Sophia Dengo

        Hello, JS & Jupiter,

        In this instance "tropical" refers to two specific lines of latitude - that is, 20 degrees North and 20 degrees South on Titan - and not so much the temperature. Though, Titan's equator is located in the moon's tropics. I hope this clears things up!

        Thanks so much for reading,
        Sophia Dengo, CNN.com

        June 14, 2012 at 9:52 am |
      • Robert

        Yes... they are tropical lakes. As in, centered around the tropics. As far as it being cold... Could simply be the air pressure that causes the gas to be in liquid form and not the temperature.

        June 14, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  52. Jupiter?

    There is nothing "tropical" about -260 F. Someday we will be able to take a "tour" to the moons of Saturn via Virgin Galactic. I’m 37 now so hopefully I’ll' still be alive... I hope 😉

    June 14, 2012 at 9:04 am |
    • D

      well, compared to -400F, -260F is decidedly warmer!

      June 14, 2012 at 11:49 am |
  53. MaryM

    lol good one

    June 14, 2012 at 8:59 am |
  54. Packed 'N Ready To Go!

    Honey, a new tropical paradise! I'm on it Dear! I see that Priceline has the cheapest rates – I'll book us a trip on Dragon 9.

    June 14, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • Randy

      ...with Shatner, still doing the commercials. ;P

      June 14, 2012 at 9:25 am |
  55. karek40

    Oh I forgot to mention, that since oil and methane are fossil fuels there must have been dinsaurs there, then again perhaps they are not fossil fuels Hmmmm

    June 14, 2012 at 8:40 am |
    • ThePharmacist

      Fossil fuels came from the fossil remains of dead plants, not dinosaurs.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:33 am |
      • krusaderrabbit

        Has that been proven?

        June 14, 2012 at 9:57 am |
      • SilentBoy741

        Yes, I'm reasonably sure that the plants (and animals) that were responsible for our fossil fuels are currently dead.

        June 14, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • Chris R

      Methane is a very simple hydrocarbon (CH3) that can be produced through multiple methods which do not require the presence of life. So the presence of large amounts of methane are not necessarily indicators of life.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:08 am |
  56. karek40

    Liquid methane and methane rain, -161 degrees C, just right for a microbe or a swim, yeah right.

    June 14, 2012 at 8:37 am |
  57. Scott

    Much as I'd like to agree, he's got a good (if odd) point.

    June 14, 2012 at 8:17 am |
  58. cpc65

    "Honey? These fish sticks taste sort of methaney. Where did you get them?"

    June 14, 2012 at 8:11 am |
    • John West

      At a jazz festival where Pat was playing.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:53 am |
      • netmarcos

        10 internets to you for the jazz reference

        June 14, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  59. Thomas

    liquid methane, an atomshpere...and no meteor or asdroid that came into contact with the moon? amazing, bet when we try to land there the moon will explode. I can understand that the gravitation from Jupiter has a part to play, but not likely? even small debris entering the atmosphere can ignite the fumes. this is all fantasy or best guesses, until we go there, it will remain fantasy. or it isn't methane? like I said, until we go there, we don't know? hard facts, we don't have much of, only speculation.

    June 13, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • phonegirl7

      Methane is flammable only in the presence of oxygen, and only in a very specific concentration (5-15%) of gas to air. If those conditions aren't met, it won't ignite from any source, be it a meteorite or a space craft.

      June 14, 2012 at 3:51 am |
    • mattski

      Maybe you shoud look up the Cassini and Huygens missions. We've landed there.

      June 14, 2012 at 7:48 am |
    • honest john

      Jupiter is mostly hydrogen but it doesn't explode because there is no oxygen. To get a fire, you need Oxygen, or in some cases, chlorine.

      June 14, 2012 at 7:55 am |
    • Jupiter?

      You meant Saturn right?

      June 14, 2012 at 8:43 am |
    • A

      Look up the Cassini-Hyugens mission. We've already landed a probe there. It's around Saturn. And what everyone else has already told you about the necessary conditions to cause an ignition.

      I'm glad you're musing, but better than posting to a random forum would be to actually do some research about the subject. Self-education is possible and very rewarding and would have answered all these questions.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:08 am |
    • Chris

      Spell check is a wonderful invention

      June 14, 2012 at 9:16 am |
      • Robert

        So where is the spell check in the reply box? Funny, I don't see it. I guess I should type all my replies in Microsoft word, spell check them and then copy and paste. Yeah. I'm sure that's what you do right?

        June 14, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
  60. Chris

    COULD harbor tiny organisms. And I could win the Powerball jackpot. But I certainly wouldn't call it news unless I did.

    June 13, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • A

      The news is the lakes existing in the tropical zone of the moon. Nature has a very high rejection rate, so I'd argue that really anything published in it is "news", at least for the scientific community.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:10 am |
  61. Big Al

    Moot and near impossible to prove. Articles like these are published to keep public interest in programs that are a painful waste of taxpayer money. Once some real data or facts are discovered, please publish them. But this near hourly speculation on what might be on a moon we will never see has become inteligence insulting cliche. Feed the people of Earth first. Then worry about the microbes on a moon.

    June 13, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • marctheduck

      Man, they just can't anything by you, can they?

      June 13, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • neff

      nope not true

      June 13, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • A

      Did you actually read the Nature article? This is a peer-reviewed journal, you can't just submit any crap article to it and expect it to get publish.

      June 14, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • Jason H

      Your entire response is perplexing. First you complain about wasting taxpayer money, then you demand that only undeniable facts be published – which is it? You need funding for the research that you're whining about. Then you go on to comment about feeding people on Earth before we look at other planets and moons, yet that has been an ongoing science for centuries before food and water shortage became such a widespread issue. You want a solution? Prevent people from procreating, THAT is the real problem here. If people would just wake up and realize that we're overextending our resources, maybe then they would think twice before rubbing their genitals against one another.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:29 am |
      • ironfray

        Nothing wrong with rubbing genitals together, just don't plant the seeds in the soil. It's funny to read some peoples comments about how wasteful these programs are and how we should feed the world with it instead.. I hope they realize that funding for these types of programs won't feed anyone for very long. Might as well use it to peak into the universe and set ourselves up for the long haul when this planet is bursting at the seams.

        June 14, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • cisconchip

      feed the people-let them feed themselves--in the end the only hope for mankind is space exploration--but u seriously would rather feed some people than teach them to feed themselves--and u probably think millions will die from climate change-is there help for those who would push the boundries or do we go the other way it used to be and be primal-tribal and then there is always someone else to eat

      June 15, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  62. neff

    wow this stuff is co cool

    June 13, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
  63. onestarman

    I Love FANTASY – When I was in Grade School 50 Years ago – There was a 'science' book in the School Library that suggested (with pictures no less) that VENUS might have 'Tropical Jungles' and DINOSAURS (cool) and the BARSOOM of fiction or the Martian Canals of Early Telescope Viewers IMAGINATION are more FUN than LIFELESS ROCKS – but That's what they are. Its nice to IMAGINE fantastic worlds but I will prefer when we actually go there and see.

    June 13, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • jemzinthekop

      I can't imagine a methane lake is something that would be very much fun to visit. And this isn't fantasy, 50 years ago there were no probes collecting data... you want fantasy in school, go down the hall to where the creationists are trying to get their programs taught in class.

      June 13, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
      • krusaderrabbit

        Wow! Where does that hostility come from?

        June 14, 2012 at 10:00 am |
      • ironfray

        Someone here lacks imagination and is angry at anyone else that has some. I won't say who though.

        June 14, 2012 at 11:41 am |
      • seth

        haha sadly the creationists are doing the rest of us christians a real disservice. They have such little faith that something like evolution shakes their entire world view. It's sad that few modern christians can understand that something like scripture can be true without it being factual. If it could be proved, what is the point of faith? If it's literal then where is the mystery of it?
        Spiritual texts should not be treated like textbooks. It cheapens them and makes them confusing. They should be treated like poetry and song, something to be studied and thought about, not sourced like an encyclopedia.

        June 14, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
  64. konner

    I think I saw this on wonders of the universe, or just "the universe". Why is this news now?

    June 13, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
    • conrad

      Brian Cox covered this a year or two ago on "Wonders of the Universe"

      June 14, 2012 at 9:15 am |
    • ironfray

      Because you'd be surprised at how many people don't watch any of those programs and are unaware that his is old news.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  65. Mennoknight

    Way COOL!!!

    June 13, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • Chris

      Literally since its temperature is around 100 K.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
  66. Miguel

    Why can't humans swim in methane lakes? Or why do we absolutely need water instead of other substances?

    June 13, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • Pepinium

      Miguel, aside from the possible toxic effects, understand that , in order for Methane to be in a liquid state, the temperature has to be quite low (about -200 C) so, no, it would not be a long swim, :).

      June 13, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
      • good one

        wow thats cool

        June 13, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
      • honest john

        polar bear plunge! Reminds me of a Futurama episode where some that alien news guy was covering such an event on Pluto I think. He finished with, "There were no survivors."

        June 14, 2012 at 7:57 am |
    • Thor

      Outside of the fact that methane has to be around -260 degrees F to become liquid (you know methane as "natural gas"), please take as many laps as you please.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • SB

      It's too cold. However, an organism could have developed in that environment which could in fact swim in it (in which case liquid water would be considered extremely hot to them... sort of like how we think of liquid iron).

      June 13, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
      • neff

        wow thanks i love this stuff

        June 13, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • johnqpublic

      humans developed in a water based environment. any dramatic changes in chemical composition would likely be toxic.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
      • Stardust

        @ only gods children- I really hope you're joking. That's far from factual. The earth is billions of years old and humans evolved just like every other living creature on the planet, thats a fact.

        June 14, 2012 at 7:57 am |
      • Lee

        @ Only God's Children! You know, it is entirely possible that people dont believe in what you think. Oh, its also entirely possible that factual evidence can outway spiritual belief for some people. You can't expect everyone to believe the way you do simply because a book thats only been around for little under 4000 years says so. Historical, Scientific, and in some circles Spiritual evidence shows the world to be older than 6000 years old. Did you ever stop to think that it could be entirely possible that the theorys of evolution and the theorys of Creationism could correlate? Only God knows how long a day in his life is. A day for God could be a day for us or 100000 years for us... we dont know. Whats to say that God didnt create "life" by starting small (bacteria) and then allowing it to process itself out to what we are today. The fact is that we dont just "magically" adapt to surroundings and life around us, it takes years for our bodies to adapt to major changes to enviroment and stimulus. If God really had a hand in it, dont you think that we could adapt to cancer and poison in a 5 second time frame? In other words, don't attempt to preach something and expect people around you to accept it as the "ultimate truth." People believe based on various aspects of their personal self. Not because some person on the internet told them that "only God made us."

        June 14, 2012 at 8:26 am |
      • Wes

        Guy's, I'm pretty sure he was joking about god creating man. Relax.

        June 14, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • Gabe

      Methane isn't a solvent. Solvency is an important part of organic chemistry.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
      • Chris

        That's a very Earth-centric position. While I agree it's unlikely, it could be possible. Nothing as complex as fish, but maybe some self replicating molecules. Who knows, always worth a look.

        June 13, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • Chris

      Assuming you could wear a space suit to keep you warm, the density of liquid methane is about 0.42 g/cm^3. The density of water is 1.0 g/cm^3, and humans are about the same. Humans are too dense and if you tried to swim you would sink then freeze.

      June 13, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
      • Peter Evans

        You wouldn't freeze, you still would have on your spacesuit. Also, you would not sink either, as you would fire your boot rockets and maintain spacial equalibrium with the surface of the methane, resupplying your fuel from the liquid around you and converting the heat into thermal energy to break the gaseous molecules above the methane into O2, for breathing and as a oxidizer for the boot fuel.

        June 13, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
      • Lee

        @ Peter Evans That is an awesome idea... patent it, I expect the design specs on my desk in the morning. Let the refueling space suit with rocket boots building begin!

        June 14, 2012 at 8:33 am |
      • joedoakes101

        Look . . . if you are going to give me panic attacks about chemistry could you at least wait until I've had a cup of coffee!


        June 14, 2012 at 9:38 am |
      • SilentBoy741

        "Humans are too dense"

        Sir, you have indeed said a mouthful there.

        June 14, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
  67. Hadenuffyet

    When we building a pipeline?

    June 13, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
  68. Daniel


    June 13, 2012 at 8:18 pm |


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