Tue, Dec 23, 2008 - Page 14 News List

Saturn moon Titan may have active ice volcanoes 土衛六號「泰坦」上可能有活冰火山

This file image provided by NASA on Oct. 10, 2007, shows geyser-like eruptions of ice particles and water vapor shooting out from the south pole of Saturn’s moon, Enceladus.
美國航太總署去年十月十日提供的這張資料照片顯示,土星衛星「泰坦」的南極噴出噴泉似的冰微粒和水蒸氣。照片:美聯社�美國航太總署

PHOTO: AP/NASA

Observations from the international Cassini spacecraft suggest Saturn’s largest moon may have active or recently active ice volcanoes.

Radar images point to flows on the surface of Titan that could result from volcanoes spewing chilled liquid from the interior, scientists reported last week.

Previous images suggested ice volcanoes existed, and scientists believe they would erupt with ammonia, methane and water instead of lava, which erupts from volcanoes on earth.

The latest data “not only indicate that volcanoes have been erupting in the recent past, but might even be going on today,” said Cassini scientist Jonathan Lunine of the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Titan is one of the few bodies in the solar system with a significant atmosphere. Scientists believe methane gas breaks up in the atmosphere and forms clouds that rain methane.

The source of methane remains a mystery. Scientists favoring the volcanic theory say methane eruptions from Titan’s interior could explain the moon’s smoggy atmosphere.

Data found bright spots on two regions on Titan. In one of the regions, scientists found evidence of ammonia frost.

But not everyone is sitting on the same side of the fence.

Scientist Jeff Moore of NASA’s Ames Research Center said the results were interesting, but don’t prove anything.

“Something is going on. Exactly what it is, isn’t clear,” Moore said.

The spacecraft has been orbiting Saturn and studying its rings and moons since 2004.(AP)

國際太空船「卡西尼號」傳回的觀測資料顯示,土星的最大衛星上可能有活冰火山或最近才開始活動的冰火山。

科學家上週報告說,雷達圖像指出,泰坦表面的流體可能是火山內部噴射出的冷凍液體。

先前傳回的圖像顯示,泰坦上有冰火山;科學家認為,這些冰火山會噴出氨、甲烷和水,不同於地球上的火山爆發時會噴出熔岩。

土桑市亞利桑納大學的「卡西尼號」任務科學家強納森.盧奈說,最新的資料指出,「這些火山不僅曾在近代多次噴發,甚至連現在也可能爆發」。

OUT LOUD 對話練習

Wilberforce: I was just reading about supervolcanoes. It’s a very interesting subject.

Tyrell: Why is it so interesting?

Wilberforce: Well, did you know that there’s a supervolcano under Yellowstone Park in the US? If it erupts it could threaten the human race with extinction.

Tyrell: So when will it erupt?

Wilberforce: It usually erupts every 600,000 years. It could happen soon.

Tyrell: Wow, you really know your onions.

威伯福斯:我正在讀超級火山的文章,這是一個很有趣的主題。

泰瑞:有趣在哪?

威伯福斯:這個嘛,你知道美國黃石公園地底有一座超級火山嗎?如果它爆發了,人類可能會絕跡。

泰瑞:那它什麼時候會爆發?

威伯福斯:它通常每六十萬年會爆發一次,可能就快再爆發了。

泰瑞:哇!你還真懂耶。

know your onions 精通某事

If a person is very knowledgeable on a subject we can say they know their onions. For example: “When it comes to horse racing, Nigel really knows his onions.”

如果某人對某個主題有很豐富的知識,就可以說是「know their onions」。例如:「說到賽馬,奈吉爾最懂了」。


泰坦是太陽系中少數擁有濃厚大氣層的天體之一。科學家認為,甲烷氣消散於大氣中後形成雲,再降下甲烷雨。

泰坦上的甲烷從何而來仍是個謎。支持火山理論的科學家們認為,泰坦內部噴出的甲烷可以為這個衛星霧濛濛的大氣提出解釋。

資料顯示,泰坦上有兩個區域呈現亮點。科學家在其中一區發現霜狀氨的證據。

但並非所有人都持相同看法。

美國航太總署艾姆斯研究中心的科學家傑夫.摩爾說,這些結果很有意思,但並不能證明什麼。

摩爾說:「的確有什麼事情發生,但究竟是什麼,還不清楚。」

這艘太空船自從二OO四年起繞行土星,觀察土星環和其衛星。(美聯社�翻譯:袁星塵)

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