On September 26, NASA's Cassini orbiter came across a major liquid system on Titan, Saturn's enormous moon.
The picture was released by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the European Space Agency only yesterday, and several researchers and ordinary folk are now referring to this major liquid system as an “alien Nile river.”
Granted, this alien river packs no water (it is most likely made up of liquid hydrocarbons such as methane and ethane), yet its being the first such large liquid system identified someplace else rather than on Earth makes it worthy of the being compared to the more familiar Nile.
“Scientists with NASA's Cassini mission have spotted what appears to be a miniature, extraterrestrial likeness of Earth's Nile River: a river valley on Saturn's moon Titan that stretches more than 200 miles (400 kilometers) from its 'headwaters' to a large sea,” reads NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory's press release on this matter.
Furthermore, “It is the first time images have revealed a river system this vast and in such high resolution anywhere other than Earth.”
As researchers explain, Titan and Earth are not all that different when it comes to having liquid move in more or less regular patterns across their surface.
The only difference between the two is that, whereas the Earth's surface is home to water movements, Titan's surface has rivers of ethane and methane on display, courtesy of the moon's -290 degree Fahrenheit average temperatures, -179 degrees Celsius.
“Titan is the only place we've found besides Earth that has a liquid in continuous movement on its surface,” explained NASA researcher Steve Wall.
“This picture gives us a snapshot of a world in motion. Rain falls, and rivers move that rain to lakes and seas, where evaporation starts the cycle all over again. On Earth, the liquid is water; on Titan, it's methane; but on both it affects most everything that happens,” he went on to add.