Astronomers have identified a storm cell on Titan the size of the country of India. The storm system appeared in April 2008 in the moon's tropical region, an area not known for its cloudiness. Using the Gemini North Telescope and NASA Infrared Telescope Facility on Hawaii's Mauna Kea volcano, a team of astronomers from the University of Hawaii, the Lowell Observatory, and the California Institute of Technology found a significant mass of methane clouds in a cold desert area where no clouds were expected. Large cloud outbursts such as these are thought to be associated with significant amounts of precipitation and probably play a major part in shaping the geological features on the surface of Titan..
The paper, "Storms in the tropics of Titan," appears in the Aug. 13 issue of Nature.
For a release on Titan research, please visit: http://media.caltech.edu/press_releases/13282