Imagine a world with weather. Hydrocarbon rains falling from an orange sky onto a deadly cold surface with chunks of ice as hard and as dry as rock; or onto vast hydrocarbon seas driven by freezing winds.
Meanwhile, through the orange haze overhead, you may glimpse a giant orb, filling half the sky, and surrounded by an even more magnificent flat ring.
This world exists. It’s Saturn’s moon Titan, the only body in the solar system other than the Earth with a stable liquid on its surface and genuine weather with precipitation and a “hydrological” cycle.
And now we know for sure that Titan has real rivers. Dubbed “Mini Nile” on NASA’s Web site, this 400 km long hydrocarbon river is the largest seen to date, and it appears to be filled with liquid along its entire length.
I truly envy those humans who, hopefully on a not too distant day in the future, will stand on the banks of this river, perhaps not even wearing a pressure suit just heated clothing and a breathing mask, and stare at this river in awe.
What will they find in the liquid? Is it harboring some primitive form of life?