Scientists have discovered a second planet after Earth, where there are powerful thunderstorms

© NASA / CICLOPSТак the artist imagined clouds on TitanScientists have discovered a second planet after Earth, where there are powerful thunderstorms© NASA / CICLOPS

. Astronomers have found the first evidence that the Titan often arise powerful thunderstorms that irrigates the surface of Saturn’s moon is not water, but methane and other hydrocarbons, according to an article published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

«I used to think that something similar might occur on Titan once in a thousand years if not less. It turned out that such storms occur about once a year on the moon of Saturn that was a big surprise for us,» said Jonathan Mitchell (Jonathan Mitchell) from the University of California at Los Angeles (USA).

Titanium, as the scientists explain, in many ways very similar to Earth – it rains there is soil erosion, and flow in some geological processes in the subsoil caused by tidal forces and gravitational interaction with Saturn. On Titan, there are seasons, and its weather processes is almost as sophisticated as their counterparts on Earth.

The differences are in the «stuffing» of the subsurface and the atmosphere of Titan – a drop of rain are composed of methane, the surface covered with ice and snow from hydrocarbons, and the role of hot mantle plays molten rock, and alleged warm ocean, existing in the depths of the saturnine moon.

Back in 2011, says Mitchell, the probe «Cassini» found a hint that with the onset of spring on Titan may periodically occur methane rains and thunderstorms, wetting his «soil» and leaving on its surface a kind of dry river beds. According to scientists, these hints were very indirect, and therefore it was not clear how often fall like rain.

Moreover, computer models of the climate Titanium showed no signs of rain or other signs of precipitation on the surface of the planet should not exist, which has led many scientists to conclude that powerful storms occur on Saturn is extremely rare. Nevertheless, traces of rain on Titan are available, and they need to explain something.

Mitchell and his colleagues solved this riddle by creating a new climate model for Titan, which takes into account the existence of large «ponds» on the surface, able to absorb and conceal the traces of rain and thunderstorms.

Cousins «Harvey», «Maria»

As they note, their model reproduces not only the average level of precipitation at which the planetary scientists had tried to calculate the rate of soil erosion of Titanium, associated with rain, but enabled to determine the maximum intensity of precipitation and the frequency of them.

Tracing the evolution of the surface virtual «Titan» for about 50 years, scientists have come to the conclusion that a powerful storm is able to wash away the soil, should be conducted on the moon of Saturn fairly regularly. As shown by these calculations, these thunderstorms must occur in polar and temperate latitudes of Titan every year, or every 30 earth years. Even more powerful storm happen about every 20-30 years, and not once in a thousand years, as previously believed by scientists.

«The most powerful methane thunderstorms that occurred in our model, covered the surface of Titan is about a 30-centimeter layer of fluid that is approximately equal to how much water was «dumped» in the United States by hurricane Harvey’s,» explains planetary scientist.

In this respect, as noted by Mitchell, Titan is more like Earth than on ancient Mars when the red planet had a thick atmosphere and on its surface there were rivers and oceans of liquid water.

These findings, interestingly, contradict recently published results of the analysis of riverbeds Titan, more like Martian waterways than on Land river. All of this suggests that the most earth-like satellite Titan is actually way more complicated than we assume today, the scientists conclude.