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19 December 2013 12:36 pm ,
Vol. 342 ,
After 20 years of trying, researchers have finally convicted massive volcanic eruptions in Siberia as the culprit in...
Five federally funded optical and radio telescopes in the United States could be forced to shut down over the next 3...
A 2-year budget agreement pushes back the threat of sequestration but leaves scientists still wondering how much money...
After a decade away from physics, Robert Laughlin, a Nobel laureate at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California,...
Computer scientists and others have teamed up to persuade the 117 state parties to the Convention on Certain...
The swine flu pandemic of late 2009 had a peculiar aftereffect in parts of Europe: a spike in children being diagnosed...
- 19 December 2013 12:36 pm , Vol. 342 , #6165
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ScienceShot: Flash Floods Make Gems on Titan
11 May 2010 5:40 pm
Gem hounds take note: Titan may hold some of the biggest and most unusual polished stones in the solar system. Radar data from the Cassini spacecraft show vast fields of smooth, rounded ice rocks--some more than 2 meters in diameter and nearly as transparent as rhinestones--on Xanadu, an Australia-sized plain south of the equator on Saturn's largest moon. Researchers have known about the stones ever since the European Huygens probe photographed Titan's landscape in January 2005 (above, left). But they didn't realize how many of them there were or that they were of such high quality. In a study published in the June issue of Icarus, the team reports that the stones are similar to those found in streambeds on Earth (above, right), but instead of being formed by water, the Titan stones likely bounced along streambeds of liquid methane and ethane for billions of years, which polished them to a remarkable smoothness.
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