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Take a trip over Titan's massive methane-filled lakes

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NASA has compiled the most detailed map ever made of Titan's methane-drenched surface, including this unprecedented 3D fly-over video. One of these lakes, Ligeia Mare, contains about 40 times the amount of oil and gas reserves on Earth, prompting some to wonder if we should bring it back to Earth.

Ligeia Mare is about twice the size of Lake Michigan — and it's not even Titan's biggest lake. That distinction goes to Kraken Mare, which is roughly five times as big.


Other than Earth, Titan is the only terrestrial object in the solar system capable of fostering stable liquids on the surface. This methane is essentially liquified natural gas. But as Randy Kirk from the U.S. Geological Survey pointed out to the BBC, "People ask me if you could bring it to Earth, and that's a dumb idea on many levels. But what you might not realize is that there simply wouldn't be enough oxygen here to burn it all."

As for the new map, it was obtained by Cassini's radar instruments from 2004 to 2013. The view, with Titan's north pole at the center, extends down to 50 degrees north latitude.


More from NASA:

Kraken Mare, Titan's largest sea, is the body in black and blue that sprawls from just below and to the right of the north pole down to the bottom right. Ligeia Mare, Titan's second largest sea, is a nearly heart-shaped body to the left and above the north pole. Punga Mare is just below the north pole.

The area above and to the left of the north pole is dotted with smaller lakes. Lakes in this area are about 30 miles (50 kilometers) across or less.

Most of the bodies of liquid on Titan occur in the northern hemisphere. In fact nearly all the lakes and seas on Titan fall into a box covering about 600 by 1,100 miles (900 by 1,800 kilometers). Only 3 percent of the liquid at Titan falls outside of this area.

[ Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI/USGS | Source: NASA ]