Data from the Cassini mission's last flyby of Saturn's moon Titan is still revealing valuable scientific data, more than three years after its demise. New research has suggested that the Kraken Mare Lake on Titan is 10 times deeper than earlier thought. Valerio Poggiali, a research associate at the Cornell University Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science and the lead author of the study said that Kraken mare contains about eighty percent of the moon's surface liquids.
According to the statement released by Cornell University, astronomers have estimated that the sea is at least three meters (1,000 feet) deep near its centre. After going through the data from one of the final Titan flybys of the Cassini mission, researchers detailed their findings in The Bathymetry of Moray Sinus at Titan's Kraken Mare, which was published on 4 December 2020 in the Journal of Geophysical Research.
The data for the discovery was gathered on Cassini's T104 flyby of Titan on 21 August 2014. The spacecraft cruised at around 20,917.9 kmph (13,000 mph) nearly 965.6 km (600 miles) above Titan's surface and used its radar altimeter to measure the liquid depth at Kraken Mare and Moray Sinus. The Cornell scientists, along with engineers from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory found that the Moray Sinus is about 280 feet deep, shallower than the depths of central Kraken Mare, which was too deep for the radar to measure.
Researchers also found that the liquid composition is not markedly different from the other northern seas is an important finding that will help in assessing models of Titan's Earth-like hydrologic system.
They also found that Kraken Mare is nearly the size of all five Great Lakes combined. The five Great Lakes - Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie and Ontario - span a total surface area of 2,45,012.8 km (94,600 square miles) and are all connected by a variety of lakes and rivers, making them the largest freshwater system in the world.
Pogialli added that Titan represents a model environment of an early Earth atmosphere stating that in this context it is important to understand the depth and composition of Kraken Mare and the Moray Sinus because it enables a more precise assessment on Titan's methane hydrology.
"Thanks to our measurements, scientists can now infer the density of the liquid with higher precision, and consequently better calibrate the sonar aboard the vessel and understand the sea's directional flows," he stated.