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Thursday, June 09, 2005

Volcanoes of methane ice

...on Titan. Per this JPL news release:
A recent flyby of Saturn's hazy moon Titan by the Cassini spacecraft has revealed evidence of a possible volcano, which could be a source of methane in Titan's atmosphere... Scientists interpret the feature as an 'ice volcano,' a dome formed by upwelling icy plumes that release methane into Titan's atmosphere.

The universe is a strange and wonderful place. And this is just in our immediate backyard.

I don't see how anyone can really believe that (1) the millions of galaxies each containing billions of stars were somehow created just to be humanity's playground, or (2) out of the ten-to-the-bazillion stars in the universe, ours was the only one around which intelligent life arose.

It's pretty telling that as soon as the technology evolves to detect planets around other stars, we start finding them in droves. As soon as we had sufficient technology to only detect the most extreme kinds of planets (hugely massive, revolving very very close to their suns), they started showing up everywhere. I will not at all be surprised when we discover (relatively) clear signs of life on a distant planet.


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