(ORDO NEWS) — The James Webb Space Telescope has discovered clouds on one of the solar system’s most mysterious moons.
Titan’s atmosphere is composed of nitrogen and methane, giving it a washed-out orange color. This thick haze blocks visible light from reflecting off the Moon‘s surface, making it difficult to see details.
The Webb Telescope observes the Universe in infrared light invisible to the human eye – on November 5, the telescope noticed a bright cloud in the northern hemisphere of Titan, and shortly after that it detected a second cloud in the atmosphere.
The larger cloud was located over Titan’s north polar region near the Mare Kraken, the largest known liquid methane sea on the Moon’s surface.
Titan’s surface has liquid bodies similar to Earth, but its rivers, lakes, and seas are made up of liquid ethane and methane, which form clouds and make it rain from the sky. Researchers also believe that Titan has an internal ocean of liquid water.
“Detecting clouds is exciting because it confirms long-standing computer model predictions about Titan’s climate that clouds form easily in the northern hemisphere’s mid-late summer when the surface is warmed by the Sun,” wrote co-author Conor Nixon, a planetary scientist at the Center NASA Goddard Space Flight in Greenbelt, Maryland, on the NASA blog.
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