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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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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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