Is it possible that NASA's Cassini spacecraft has found evidence of an ocean of water and perhaps even life beneath the frozen crust of Saturn's largest moon called Titan?
A team of researchers' findings were reported and released online by the journal Science on Thursday that they: "saw a large amount of squeezing and stretching as the moon orbited Saturn."
What's it mean? These discoveries may reveal that if Titan were made up of just mounds of stiff rock, the gravitational attraction of Saturn would cause bulges, or solid "tides," on the moon only 3 feet high.
"Cassini's detection of large tides on Titan leads to the almost inescapable conclusion that there is a hidden ocean at depth," said Luciano Iess, the lead author of the report and a Cassini team member at the Sapienza University of Rome, Italy in a news release issued by NASA. "The search for water is an important goal in solar system exploration, and now we've spotted another place where it is abundant."
The news release further explained that it takes the Titan moon around 16 days to orbit Saturn, and the team was able to study the moon's shape at different parts of its orbit.
"Because Titan is not spherical but slightly elongated like a football, its long axis grew when it was closer to Saturn. Eight days later, when Titan was farther from Saturn, it became less elongated and more nearly round," according to the NASA news release.
It was part of Cassini's mission to measure the gravitational effect of that squeeze and pull.
Mystery of Saturn
Astrologer and author of several books, who studies the planets, explained that Saturn's Moon, Titan, was discovered in 1655 by Dutch astronomer, Christiaan Huygens, although he is not responsible for naming the moon Titan.
“He called it simply Saturn IV representing the fourth moon of Saturn. It was John Herschel in 1847 who named it Titan for the Titans of Greek mythology from what I have studied. What's most interesting about this name is many scholars believe the word Titan is related to the Greek verb meaning 'to stretch,'” she said.
“And here we're told that NASA made this fascinating discovery of Titan's buried ocean by watching Titan 'squeeze and stretch' in its orbit around Saturn," she continued.
“From an astrological point of view this discovery signals that we should be asking ourselves is: 'where do we need to stretch ourselves' to gain what we want?”
Stellhorn said that she has also read that Saturn is named after the Roman god Saturnus, and it is where we get the word, Saturday.
"But despite the joy of our modern day Saturday, Saturn has two sides; one of restriction and inhibition and the other of success and achievement," she said. "In astrology, Saturn represents your career like in ancient times Saturnus ruled over agriculture (the first career of ancient people)."
Currently, Saturn is in Libra and it is considered exalted in Libra meaning that Saturn is very strong in this sign. Saturn in Libra brings our attention to partnerships and relationships where we test them to see if it's a partnership that will bring us what we want, Stellhorn said.
"Saturn in Libra brings us a strong sense of duty and obligation to others whether they be friends or the community at large (hence the passing of the ," she said. "But Saturn in Libra can also make us inhibited around others, we want to guard and protect ourselves from potential danger and ridicule."
Saturn will leave Libra around October 5 and "as he leaves he will take something from each of us; a friendship or relationship may end, your career may shift, or an opportunity may escape you."
But the void left from whatever Saturn takes will soon be filled with something much, much better, she said.
Incidentally, the NASA news release also said: "that an ocean layer does not have to be huge or deep to create these tides. A liquid layer between the external, deformable shell and a solid mantle would enable Titan to bulge and compress as it orbits Saturn."
Scientists believe that Titan's surface is made up mostly of liquid water, the news release said.
"The presence of a subsurface layer of liquid water at Titan is not itself an indicator for life. Scientists think life is more likely to arise when liquid water is in contact with rock, and these measurements cannot tell whether the ocean bottom is made up of rock or ice. The results have a bigger implication for the mystery of methane replenishment on Titan," according to the NASA news release.