Even Earth’s oceans are unexplored and a monument to the difficulty of exploring the underwater world. But these are not the only unexplored seas in the solar system. Pockets of liquid methane on Titan are another problem that future Solar System explorers will face.
More recently, scientists have discovered that if a mission to study Titan’s seas is ever launched, it will have plenty of room to work because the Saturn satellite’s largest sea is probably more than 300 meters deep.
The Kraken Sea was the subject of a recent study by lead author Valerio Poggiali of Cornell and his colleagues. They also studied its Moray Sinus estuary at the northern tip. The scientists analyzed data from one of Cassini’s last passes over Titan in August 2014. That data included radar measurements of the sea and its mouth.
The height from the surface of the sea to its bottom was calculated using the time difference in these radar signals. In addition, the percentage of the signal that was returned to Cassini was used to determine a baseline understanding of the composition of the sea. The radar signal was not actually able to penetrate to the depths of the central Kraken Sea, which means that it is deeper than expected.
It also turned out that the sea is actually composed of more methane than ethane. Scientists had expected ethane to dominate, mainly because of the sea’s size and equatorial position.