On February 6, the Cape Cod Astronomical Society welcomes back CCAS member Dr. Kenneth Brink as our speaker. Dr. Brink, who is a Senior Scientist Emeritus with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, will speak about “Extraterrestrial Oceans.”
We are all familiar with Earth’s oceans and their importance for life on this planet. In order to understand where else similar oceans might be found in the cosmos, we begin by considering what makes Earth-like oceans possible. These factors include the right solar heating, a magnetic field, and plate tectonics. There are, within our own solar system, at least two other types of oceans. One, typified by Jupiter’s moon Europa, exists because of tidal stresses which cause friction and thus warm up an otherwise frigid ice-covered body. The apparent resulting ocean lies beneath 10-30 km of solid water ice, but it has potential as a locale for life. A second type of liquid feature occurs on the very cold Saturnian moon Titan, the only moon in our solar system with an atmosphere. In this case, methane lakes occur as part of an evaporation/precipitation cycle not unlike the water cycle on Earth. These types of “oceans” are what we know to exist: other forms are possible.
The meeting, which is free and open to the public, starts at 7:30 pm in the Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School Library. If you’d like, join us to catch dinner with the speaker before each meeting at 5:45 at the Hearth & Kettle, Route 28 in South Yarmouth.