back to article We've cracked riddle of ANTIGRAVITY mountains on Saturn's Titan - boffins

An icy shell around Saturn's largest moon Titan is thicker and tougher than boffins previously thought – and it is concealing a bizarre interior with inward-facing spikes. ESA's Huygens probe image of a mountain on the surface of Titan A root mountaintop on Titan. Credit: ESA/NASA/JPL/University of Arizona NASA's Cassini …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. lglethal Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    This is why I love Science!

    Scientific research - constantly suprising, innovative and just damn amazing for the imagination!

    1. Yet Another Commentard

      Re: This is why I love Science!

      and moreover self-corrects when evidence pops up that doesn't work with what you'd expect.

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: This is why I love Science!

        Science is very cool and you know it's being done well when it creates more questions than answers. It is the erroneous assumption that there is an 'ultimate' answer to something that screws up all kinds of things.

        1. Rukario
          Thumb Up

          Re: This is why I love Science!

          @Don: It is the erroneous assumption that there is an 'ultimate' answer to something that screws up all kinds of things.


        2. Michael Habel

          Re: This is why I love Science!

          No the "Ultimate Answer" IS 42!

          Its the "Ultimate Question" that we still have to figure out...

          1. Rukario

            Re: This is why I love Science!

            > Its the "Ultimate Question" that we still have to figure out...

            It is impossible for both the Ultimate Answer and the Ultimate Question to be known in the same universe, as they will cancel each other out, and the Universe will be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable...

            Oh wait... hasn't this already happened?

      2. Denarius Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: This is why I love Science!

        tch, you are trusting. As some scientist said, "Science advances one funeral at a time" I suggest that quote indicates that a dominant set of presuppositions holds sway until the originators or more accurately, popularisers cark, so previously ignored anomalies might get admitted and a new set of (depending on discipline) rigid presuppostions becomes the received truth. As for the Titan observations, great analysis, but until something is drilling holes and running seismic observations it ain't science. Plausable hypothesis though. Still lots of odd stuff out there. Makes one wonder just how thin the ice shell on Europa is, if Titan has a thick shell and a lot less tidal heating.

        1. Jtom

          Re: This is why I love Science!

          Observational science is still science. There has been an astounding number of facts and principles developed through observing how planetary objects, moons, suns, and galaxies interact with each other. Even an element was discovered through astronomy (helium). To dismiss astronomy and other observational fields because you can't do hands-on experiments is myopic. You can't 'touch' climatology or evolution, either, yet they are still science.

        2. Clunking Fist

          Re: This is why I love Science!

          So we gotta wait for Schmidt, Nurse, Slingo & Mann to die before we can shake this CAGW guff?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Titanic Icebergs?

    How appropriate.

  3. Ralph B



    1. Esskay

      Re: Mega-Geodes!

      You mean rocks?

      <Mine's the one with Breaking Bad season 4 in the pocket

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mega-Geodes!

        For Christ sake Esskay, they are minerals.

  4. gkroog

    Less gravity than expected?

    Heavy, man...

    1. Big O

      Re: Less gravity than expected?

      It's still a serious situation.....

  5. Rustident Spaceniak

    It's clear: Those mountains are hollow!

    Surely those icy mountains contain the enormous caves where the children of the Titans live - the Okeanids and other horrible creatures of ages past. Attempt no landing there!

    1. Graham Marsden

      Re: It's clear: Those mountains are hollow!

      I blame the Sirens...

    2. Ed_UK

      Re: It's clear: Those mountains are hollow!

      ...and I have touched the sky.

  6. Parax

    Inward pointing spikes..

    So just like Ice floating on water, 2/3 is below the surface?

    So it's liquid under the icy crust.

    They could have said it better.

    1. Oninoshiko

      Re: Inward pointing spikes..

      Somewhat ironic for a man named Hemingway.

    2. Return To Sender

      Re: Inward pointing spikes..

      "So it's liquid under the icy crust"

      Umm, if I've read it properly, then exactly not. Rather the supposition is that it's bloody great big chunks of ice (the roots) being held down by a seriously thick & rigid ice crust - rather than rising as would usually be the case. That leads to the lower density, thence to the gravitic anomaly; although personally, I think there's just a sodding great ice cave with a monolith in it causing the blip.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How do they know...

    ...that it *isn't* actually beach balls?

    1. mr.K

      Re: How do they know...

      They don't. They are actually hoping that it is, as that is one of the conditions for existence of sea lions on Titan.

  8. Johnny Canuck


    The mountains are made of unobtainium.

    1. Herby

      Re: Obviously

      Sorry, they are made of Upsidaisium. Now to get Boris and Natasha from getting it before Rocky and Bullwinkle. Now where is the rocket??

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Very cool!

    No pun about ice or temperatures on Titan intended.....

  10. channel extended

    An example

    To see an example of this type of ice shell take a three liter bottle and fill it completely with water, no air bubbles. Put the bottle in a freezer that can reach zero c temps or below, or outside in the winter at some latitudes. When the water is as frozen as it can get, usually three days or so. You will see a hard ice shell with inward facing spikes,also interestingly there will be floating ice crystals in the inner bubble.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Very good!

    Lovely deduction there from this group.

    In my more random moments, I've often wondered just what aliens make of our curiously blue planet. It surely requires an interesting feat of deduction to suggest that it's blue because of the reflection of the sky, and that's blue because of the curious refraction patterns within the atmosphere's water droplets.

    It's probably this observation that makes them so interested in visiting us in their saucers.!!...???

    1. Interceptor

      Re: Very good!

      Sorry to wander off topic, but my late father was a big Sci-Fi fan; he and I used to get on a roll about aliens in another solar system being just a bit above our technological level and observing this curious yellow sun and its planets - "Look there, at the third planet. Habitable? We hardly think so. For one, it's far outside the required 500+ kelvin* 'habitability band' - far too far away from the parent star. Organisms would certainly freeze to death there. It has a thick atmosphere, likely containing toxic gases like oxygen and argon, and the planet has frighteningly rapid rotation that almost certainly doesn't permit the slow heating required for intelligent, silicon based life forms to thrive. I'm afraid we'll have to look elsewhere if we're going to find life in this galaxy," and so on.


      Miss ya dad, wish you could see some of this stuff.

  12. Martin Huizing

    "Douglas Hemingway and Francis Nimmo"

    Give these guys a movie deal asap!Space explorers and scientists. The new Kirk and Spock?

  13. jlb

    This is a really creative idea - worthy of admiration. But I'll bet the guy who developed it really resents being called a "boffin".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "This is a really creative idea - worthy of admiration. But I'll bet the guy who developed it really resents being called a "boffin"."

      Did you create your El Reg commentard account just so you could just whinge about the word 'boffin'?

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Yes he did!!!!!!!

  14. Michael Habel

    Could it just be...

    That Saturn's Gravity is just denser then that of Titan and so is in fact working the way it should?

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like