New Mystery in One of Titan’s Largest Hydrocarbon Seas

Saturn’s large moon, Titan–the potential fuel depot of the future if we continue to rely upon hydrocarbon technology–has been under scrutiny for some time, and recently NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has detected an unexplained, changing feature in Ligeia Mare, one of Titan’s largest hydrocarbon seas.

The feature hadn’t been detected prior to July 2013 and SAR images (Synthetic Aperture Radar) obtained in October 2013 also failed to recover the feature. However, the SAR observation from Cassini’s August 21, 2014 flyby shows the feature, although its appearance changed in size, doubling from about 30 square miles to about 60 square miles. Says NASA:

The Cassini radar team is investigating possible origins for the feature, including surface waves, rising bubbles, floating solids, solids that are suspended just below the surface or perhaps something more exotic. Researchers suspect that the appearance of this feature could be related to changing seasons on Titan, as summer draws near in the moon’s northern hemisphere. Monitoring such changes is a major goal for Cassini’s current extended mission.

It is probably not surprising that Titan’s environment is sufficiently volatile to yield such mysterious changes, and whatever we learn of it is bound to increase our understanding of this potentially very important body in our solar system. But for now, given that we have absolutely no direct experience with seas of hydrocarbon, the feature is fascinating and we look forward to noodling it through.

06The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena) manages the mission for NASA. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The radar instrument was built by JPL and the ISA, working with team members from the United States and several European countries.

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Medicinal Need Released as a Kindle Short Story

Medicinal Need KDP CoverNow released as a stand-alone short story for Kindle is “Medicinal Need,” my first Western-based tale. “Medicinal Need” was first released as part of the multi-genre print and e-book anthology, In Vino Veritas (In Wine There is the Truth), still also available through Amazon and featuring a total of three of my short stories (“Medicinal Need,” “Another Wrong World” and “Early Retirement”). The anthology is a drink-themed anthology, and “Medicinal Need” was written expressly with that theme in mind.

The story will also be available in other e-book formats later this weekend. Like my other stories, it is priced at $0.99.

“Medicinal Need” is about a cow hand, Luke, his serious injury incurred on a cattle drive, and the elixir his trail boss utilizes to manage the problem. It begins as follows:

Luke heard the ricochet and saw the rock spark less than a wink before hot pain seized him.

Ned hooted at Zeke. “That was just the worst shot I ever seen!”

“’Twarn’t my fault!”

“Ain’t nobody else’s!”

Luke couldn’t discern the words or their meaning. The banter seemed just a foolish skit on the far side of a hazy canyon. Only searing agony was immediate—a burning weight imbedded in his chest. He teetered back against the cold stone face he’d been leaning against when the shot rang, afraid now to budge. Any movement would make it worse.

Luke heard Rex arrive, storming from the direction of the wagon. “God damn it! If you knuckleheads spook the cattle I’m gonna dock you both for the day we lose dealin’ with it!”

Luke felt his back slip to the right. Not enough friction against the stone. Oh, God Almighty, don’t let me fall! He tried to press harder. But the effort intensified his distress. He closed his eyes.

“Rex?” he tried. His voice fell quietly to nothing. To be heard he’d need more force. He steeled himself. “Rex!”

Rex’s distant rant halted.

“I’m hit,” Luke managed.

Copyright (c) 2012, 2014 J. C. Conway

The bullet remains lodged and must be managed. But it is dangerously close to his heart.

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Coming Soon: Nickel Stream

Perihelion Science Fiction has accepted for a future issue my new short science-fiction story, “Nickel Stream.” This tale, set in a fairly distant, star-faring future, is about a blue collar worker, Gina, stationed at an outpost close enough to a … Continue reading

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Promotion: Download “Murphy’s Traverse” to Kindle for Free until September 22

“Murphy’s Traverse” answers the question: “What can go wrong?” But not everything goes wrong. Between now and September 22, “Murphy’s Traverse” can be downloaded from Amazon in Kindle format for free. So go ahead. Download it. Read it. Don’t read … Continue reading

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A Science Fiction About Quantum Uncertainty; A Romance About Longing and Doubt

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Join Amy Budge as her life, the world, and the universe unravel and reform around her, again and again. Is there an end in sight? Yes, according to the idiots that got her into this mess. Is it an end … Continue reading

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Europes Answer To The Shuttle.

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Originally posted on Astronomy and Law:
The European Space Agency is readying its first-ever “space plane” for sub-orbit for tests. The Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) is undergoing final ground tests, before being launched from Kourou in French Guiana. The sneaker-shaped…

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Attorneys in Space: Worlds Less Traveled Now Available at Smashwords

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With a new cover and new distribution channels, “Worlds Less Traveled” is now available in most ebook formats (it became available in Kindle format earlier this month). This short story has been well received since it first hit the scene … Continue reading

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New Kindle Anthology of Flash Fiction and Short Stories: Another Wrong World (and other offbeat tales)

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Another Wrong World: and other off beat tales is a collection of very short stories published in various magazines over the past two-and-a-half years. From asteroid bars to a child’s front yard, from the eyes of a veteran star pilot … Continue reading

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Gentle Push Available as a Kindle Single Short Story

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My short science-fiction story, “Gentle Push,” is now available in Kindle format through Amazon as a 99-cent stand-alone short story. The story was first published in 2012 by Mindflights, and appeared earlier this year in the print magazine, Tales of … Continue reading

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China To Have Space Station By 2022.

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Originally posted on Astronomy and Law:
After an aggressive series of space programs, the Chinese government has set another ambitious goal: a space station of their own. The space station will use modules that they have already placed in orbit…

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