Scientists working on NASA’s Cassini mission has identified the highest peak on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. It is 10,948 feet, about a third as tall as Mount Everest and almost exactly the high of Black Mountain in Montana.
The peak was found within a trio of mountainous ridges called Mithrim Montes, which is one of several towering peaks on Titan that are about 10,000 feet in elevation, according to the research presented on Thursday at the 47th annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference at the Woodlands, Texas.
It was used for the study images and other data from Cassini’s radar instrument, which can see through the opaque atmosphere that Titan offers to reveal its surface in detail, researchers added.
“It is not only the highest point we have found so far on Titan, but we think it is the highest point we are likely to find,” said Stephen Wall, deputy lead of the Cassini radar team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Researchers also found that Titan’s tallest mountains appear to be close to the equator. Others peaks of similar high were identified by the team within the same mountainous ridges, as well as in other region called Zabady and in collections of more isolated peaks called “ridge belts”, which is near the landing site of ESA’s Huygens probe.
Its height may not become the peak in the tallest one in the solar system, that title is held by Mars’ extinct volcano Olympus Mons at a height of 16 miles, but considering that Titan is a relatively small moon compared to the planets, it is an impressive height.
Clues from its evolution
The evolution of Titan’s landscape has the interest of scientists due to the similarities that the satellite and Earth have. Titan is the only known moon in the solar system with an atmosphere, and the only one besides Earth with liquid on his surface, which in Titan is not actually water but methane and ethanol, as reported by Fox News.
As explorers, the team is motivated to find the highest or the deepest places partly because it is exciting but also because Titan extremes tell them important things about forces affecting its evolution, according to Jani Radebaugh, a Cassini radar team associate at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, who led the research.
Source: NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory