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back to article First 'cryovolcano' discovered on Titan, ice moon of Saturn

Boffins believe they have discovered the first "cryovolcano" known to the human race: a mountain on Titan, ice moon of Saturn, which has appeared in much the same way as an Earthly volcano - but which is made of ice and spews freezing slush rather than blazing molten rock. The feature in question has long been known to …

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May I for one

welcome our new Aztlan ice volcano slush puppy overlords

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Welcome

You may, however,

you forgot to leave out the doormat. Therefore it is up to I, AlistairJ, to welcome our new cryo patio-gas breathing overlords.

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conditions for life ?

If liquid pressurised water can exist inside volcano cores on Titan, this could provide similar conditions to deep ocean vents on Earth.

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Might not be liquid coming up

The material coming to the surface might be a plastic form of ice rather than liquid water. It would only melt when pressure is released, such as when the surface fractures. At that point you'd get an eruption containing liquid, solid and gas, but there'd never be a persistent pool of water.

The Earth is very similar, except it is plastic rock that moves towards the surface in the Mantle rather than ice.

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FAIL

Temperature shift

The difference is in temperature. On earth, volcanic vents are quite hot, whereas the "volcanic vents" on Titan could be merely 1*C or even less since it's pressurized.... Needless to say, they won't necessarily be the comfy-cozy hot-tub conditions that we have on Earth, so I hope the microbial life evolved parkas too....

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When were these first predicted?

Planet of the Daleks was 1973, and I presume Terry Nation (and/or Terrance Dicks) didn't get the idea from out of thin air.

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Unhappy

I was disappointed to see that his name wasn't reproduced in the way it was on the BBC

Dr. Randy Kirk. It sort of sums up the original Star Trek beautifully.

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Skiing holiday anyone?

I'll see you at the bottom

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Joke

slush puppy volcanoes you say?

so basically, Titan would make a good first service station on the inter-solar space motorway - natural slush puppy volcanoes and ready supply of gas for cooking

What are you waiting for NASA?

Hurry up and sort out theMoonbase we were told we would have in 1999 and the Mars colony we should have had last year!

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Coat

I'm fascinated.

I want to see the pictures of red-hot ice lava!

The one with the space helmet in the pocket, thanks.

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Alien

Not New

Just discovered? I don't think so - I saw something like this on a series about The Planets (may even have been The Universe) on The Discovery Channel over a year ago.

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Headmaster

Sort-of New

Astronomers have been talking about them for years, but this is the first real candidate discovered.

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Alien

Still Old News

Cryovalcanism was discovered when Voyager 2 flew past Triton, a loooong time ago (August 24, 1989):

look here: http://www.daviddarling.info/encyclopedia/C/cryovolcanism.html

I quote for those who cant be bothered:

"cryovolcanism

The eruption of water and other liquid or vapor-phase volatiles, together with gas-driven solid fragments, onto the surface of a planet or moon due to internal heating. It has been observed on only one world to date: Triton, the largest moon of Neptune. Geyser-like plumes of nitrogen were discovered on Triton during the flyby of Voyager 2. However, there is indirect evidence that cryovolcanic processes may have taken place elsewhere in the outer Solar System and might even be active today on moons such as Europa and Enceladus"

and "One of Voyager's images shows an actual plume rising 8 km above the surface and extending 140 km downwind".

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Boffin

VASIMR-powered hydrocarbon freight service

We should start building the infrastructure needed to support atmospheric hydrocarbon mining operations on Titan, and use VASIMR-powered freighters to push the collected hydrocarbons back to earth.

Now, before anyone gets all hot-and-bothered over the Greenhouse Gas potential of said hydrocarbons (being methane, propane, and ethane), let me just say that we need the hydrocarbons for a lot more than just fuel. Plastics, synthetic alkaloids for medicine, lubricants, electronics, and many other materials that have become practically indispensable to our developed (and developing) world rely on easily cracked and re-arranged hydrocarbon molecules, and Titan has enough to sustain us for a good, long time, and doesn't require that we dig up and pollute our own ocean waters and natural landscapes to get to it.

And the abundant supply of cold nitrogen could be used to power and maintain the orbital infrastructure near Titan needed to conduct operations; nitrogen has a fairly high vapour pressure, and the evaporation of massive quantities of liquid N2 could be used to spin power turbines during periods when solar arrays are shaded from sunlight. The orbital platforms' electronics and life support systems could provide the waste heat necessary to evaporate the LN2, and the N2 could, in turn, be used to cool platform systems and to provide orbital station-keeping thrust.

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Happy

wait until it erupts

it won't be fit for tv, that's for sure.

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Headmaster

If, on Titan, their water acts equivalently to our rock....

... then does that mean that to Titans, we are all trolls?

I'll get my concrete overcoat now.

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Coat

Never Mind Earth's Environment

But what about the Titanians?

Won't someone think of the Titanians!?

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Um, pedantic I know...

... but technically, anything that happens on another body in the Solar System can't be "geological" or "subterranean" as both of these mean stuff on our own planet. Hence terms like 'selenology', 'areology'. I have no idea what the corresponding terms are for Titan, if they've even been invented.

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Alien

a perm. by a.a.lien

waiting for the poma, while I ski at aztlan

i see a birdy overhead. wtf 2 plan ?

spread the word both wide and far, that hydrocarbons are

gravitation-ally yours, right where you are.

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Pint

7-Eleven will now....

Dump huge amounts into the space program to build the first Slurpee Factory in the Solar System! Then 7-Eleven will huge storage reservoir for the Big Gulp factory afterwards.

I am first to welcome our Giant 64 Gallon Beverage Convenience Store Overlords...

A beer icon because its the closest thing to a Slurpee I can find.

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