A Vector Map of the Unnamed Methane Sea on Titan

Illustration for article titled A Vector Map of the Unnamed Methane Sea on Titan

Peter Minton is a California teacher who loves to make vector maps in his spare time. His favorite places to map are islands and coastlines, and so when the Cassini-Huygens probe sent back images from Saturn's moon Titan he was happy to discover the geographical features he loves most. There, on the pole of Titan, was a sea full of islands. An unnamed methane sea, but still mappable using vectoring software. This is the map he created, with longitude and latitude lines.


Minton, who already created vector maps of the islands in this sea, writes:

I went ahead and digitized the shoreline of the unnamed methane sea . . . It is one of the largest bodies of liquid known to exist on this moon of Saturn. This body of liquid methane, ethane and nitrogen is about the size of Lake Superior.


The intrepid map afficionado at Strange Maps blog adds:

The orange opacity of Titan's atmosphere makes the moon appear bigger than it actually is - astronomers have since distinguished between permanent cloud cover and surface, and downgraded it from the first- to the second-largest moon in our system, after Jupiter's satellite Ganymede.

Not until the flyby, in 2004, of the Cassini-Huygens mission could scientists confirm the speculation, first ignited by both Voyager missions and then heightened by Hubble observations, that Titan is the only heavenly body (save Earth) to contain large liquid surfaces - or seas, as non-astronomers would call them. For they seem a bit too small to be labelled oceans.

These seas, or lakes, most probably consisting of methane or another hydrocarbon, can be seen on this page of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

This sea is one of the few unnamed large bodies of liquid in the solar system. What should we name it?

EVS-Islands [via Strange Maps]


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note to fantasy authors...

please use stuff like this for your worlds...

it looks real, it makes sense from a geologic pov etc etc...

I have a huge rant about maps in fantasy books...but I'll spare you.