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美国宇航局数据证实土卫六可以支持生命

For the first time,scientists have mapped the whole surface of Titan,the largest moon around Saturn.The map confirms existing data showing that Titan has many Earth-like qualities that might b e able to support life.

科学家们首次绘制了土卫六的整个表面,土卫六是土星周围最大的卫星。这张地图证实了现有的数据,显示泰坦具有许多类似地球的性质,可能能够支持生命。

The data was collected by Cassini,a spacecraft operated by the U.S.space agency NASA.The spacecraft studied Saturn and its moons from 2004 to 2017.Astronomers used images and radar measurements from Cassini to create the geological map of Titan.

这些数据是由美国宇航局(NASA)运营的卡西尼号飞船收集的。2004年至2017年,宇宙飞船对土星及其卫星进行了研究。天文学家利用卡西尼号的图像和雷达测量结果绘制了土卫六的地质图。

The map shows Titan as a mixture of flat plains,hills and mountains,windblown sand areas,valleys and lakes.The mapping operation is described in a report published in Nature Astronomy.

地图显示泰坦是平原、丘陵和山脉、风沙区、山谷和湖泊的混合体。在《自然天文学》上发表的一份报告中描述了这一制图操作。

Rosaly Lopes led the project.She is a planetary scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena,California.Lopes told the publication that the many similarities between Earth and Titan make the Saturn moon a great choice for continued exploration.

罗莎莉·洛佩斯领导了这个项目。她是位于加利福尼亚帕萨迪纳的美国宇航局喷气推进实验室的行星科学家。洛佩斯告诉《华尔街日报》说,地球和土卫六之间的许多相似之处,使土星卫星成为继续探索的绝佳选择。

"Titan has an atmosphere like Earth.It has wind,it has rain,it has mountains,"Lopes said."It's a really very interesting world,and one of the best places in the solar system to look for life."

“泰坦有一个类似地球的大气层。“有风,有雨,有山,”洛佩斯说这是一个非常有趣的世界,也是太阳系寻找生命的最佳场所之一。”

Titan is the only planet in our solar system besides Earth to have known bodies of liquid on its surface.But Titan's seas and lakes are filled with liquid methane rather than water.Methane,a gas,behaves as a liquid on Titan because the planet is extremely cold.
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土卫六是太阳系中除了地球之外唯一一颗在其表面有已知液体体的行星。但是泰坦的海洋和湖泊充满了液态甲烷而不是水。甲烷,一种气体,在土卫六上表现为液体,因为这颗行星非常寒冷。

At cold temperatures,methane g oes through similar changes as rain on Earth.It falls to the surface across the planet to form rivers and lakes and can then evaporate to form clouds again.

在寒冷的温度下,甲烷的变化与地球上的雨水相似。它落在地球的表面形成河流和湖泊,然后又蒸发形成云。

The map found that nearly two-thirds of Titan's surface is made up of flat plains,Nature reported.About 17 percent is covered in sandy hills shaped by the wind,mostly around the equator.

据《自然》杂志报道,这张地图发现,泰坦表面近三分之二由平坦的平原构成。大约17%的地区被风吹成的沙山所覆盖,大部分在赤道附近。

Unlike Earth,Titan's sand is made up of carbon,hydrogen,nitrogen and oxygen.Around 14 percent of the surface is considered hilly or mountainous.

与地球不同,泰坦的沙子是由碳、氢、氮和氧组成的。大约14%的地表被认为是丘陵或山地。

Seas and lakes filled with liquid methane cover an estimated 1.5 percent of Titan.The liquid exists mainly closer to the planet's poles,while the equatorial areas remain drier.

充满液态甲烷的海洋和湖泊约占泰坦的1.5%。这种液体主要存在于靠近地球两极的地方,而赤道地区仍然比较干燥。
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Ralph Lorenz is a planetary scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel,Maryland.He told the publication one of Cassini's most interesting discoveries"is that Titan is so diverse."Lorenz added:"It's almost like a completely different world,and this systematic mapping marshals that diversity."

拉尔夫·洛伦兹是马里兰州劳雷尔市约翰·霍普金斯大学应用物理实验室的行星科学家。他在接受《卡西尼号》杂志采访时说,卡西尼号最有趣的发现之一是“泰坦是如此的多样化”,洛伦兹补充说:“它几乎就像一个完全不同的世界,而这种系统化的地图整理出了这种多样性。”

Rosaly Lopes says organic materials—those containing carbon—in Titan's atmosphere are important for the growth of living organisms."Organics are very important for the possibility of life on Titan,which many of us think likely would have evolved in the liquid water ocean under Titan's icy crust,"she said.

罗莎莉·洛佩斯说,土卫六大气中含有碳的有机物质对生物的生长非常重要。”有机物对土卫六上的生命的可能性非常重要,我们很多人认为,土卫六上的生命很可能是在土卫六冰层下的液态海洋中进化而来的。

Scientists believe the mixing of organic material and liquid could have caused complex molecules to develop,or possibly life itself.

科学家认为,有机物质和液体的混合可能导致复杂分子的发展,或者可能是生命本身。

The search for possible life on Titan will continue when NASA launches its Dragonfly mission to explore the planet in 2026.Dragonfly is a drone,or pilotless aircraft.It is designed to capture images from above Titan as well as to land on the planet to collect data.

2026年,当美国宇航局(NASA)发射蜻蜓探索泰坦时,对泰坦上可能存在生命的探索将继续下去。蜻蜓是一种无人驾驶飞机。它的设计目的是从泰坦上方捕获图像,并降落在地球上收集数据。

Dragonfly is not expected to arrive at Titan until 2034.But when it does,Lopes and her team will be excitedly awaiting its findings."It is not only scientifically important but also really cool—a drone flying around on Titan,"she said."It will be really exciting."

预计蜻蜓要到2034年才能抵达泰坦。但一旦发现,洛佩斯和她的团队将兴奋地等待调查结果。”她说:“这不仅在科学上很重要,而且很酷——一架无人驾驶飞机在泰坦上飞行。”这将非常令人兴奋。”
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