Possible ice volcano found on Saturn moon

2010-12-15 07:12

Washington – Nasa’s Cassini spacecraft has spotted what could be an ice volcano on Saturn’s moon Titan, scientists said yesterday.

The images were analysed by the US Geological Society, which noted the similarity of an area of the moon known as Sotra Facula to volcanoes on Earth.

The findings were presented at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

Ice volcanoes, also called cryovolcanoes, have long been believed to exist in icy parts of the solar system, but the new evidence is the best yet that they exist.

The images of two peaks more than 900m high are likely ice volcanoes, which spew water and icy particles to the surface instead of hot lava, scientists said.

“This is the very best evidence, by far, for volcanic topography anywhere documented on an icy satellite,” scientist Jeffrey Kargel said.

A previous feature discovered on the moon had initially been believed to be an ice volcano, but that theory was later discounted.

The existence of ice volcanoes would explain other features of the Earth-like moon, such as the high levels of methane in its atmosphere.

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