NASA says it has found possible ice volcanoes on Saturn's moon Titan that look a lot like volcanoes on Earth that spew molten rock.
Scientists have been debating for years whether ice volcanoes exist on ice-rich moons, and if they do, how they work. A previous sighting of a possible ice volcano on Titan turned out to be wrong, but on Tuesday, NASA said the international Cassini spacecraft found two peaks reaching over 1,000 metres, and what looks like volcanic ice flows.
Topography and surface composition data from Cassini offer the best support yet for an Earth-like volcano landform in the outer solar system that erupts in ice, NASA scientists said.
"When we look at our new 3-D map of Sotra Facula on Titan, we are struck by its resemblance to volcanoes like Mt. Etna in Italy, Laki in Iceland and even some small volcanic cones and flows near my hometown of Flagstaff," Cassini radar team member Randolph Kirk said in a release.
Results were presented Tuesday at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.
Cassini launched in October 1997, and began orbiting Saturn in 2004. Saturn has more than 60 known moons, with Titan being the largest.