Surfers love to complain about crowds. Well, if we’re being completely honest here, most surfers love to complain about sharing their favorite resource with any other human, period. For example, if there were just one surfer on a planet and he or she was suddenly greeted in the lineup by the second ever surfer on said planet – that first surfer would start getting eggy about overcrowding real quick. As far as we know, Earth is the only place supporting surfers guilty of this kind of social anxiety. So far.
But as it turns out, our planet is no longer the only place in the Milky Way with waves, so this whole overcrowding phenomenon may not be exclusive to us for long. In 2013, 2014, and 2015 NASA’s Cassini orbiter passed over Ligeia Mare, a massive 260 mile by 217 mile lake on the North Pole of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. This ended up being the first interstellar surf check because the photos Cassini returned revealed something scientists are just now starting to understand. Some of the photos showed what they described as a “glint,” or a shining reflection, while the shine had disappeared in others. A new report from NASA is now describing the phenomenon as waves on the surface of the lake, caused by winds during Titan’s summer. Yes, we now know there are breaking waves on other planets. Pack your bags.
“It’s really exciting, as we’ve confirmed that Titan’s seas are active environments,” said Jason Hofgartner, Ph.D. ’16, a NASA postdoctoral researcher at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “There are stable liquids on the surface of Titan, and processes acting on these liquids are similar to those on Earth. Titan’s seas – though composed of liquid methane and ethane – are not stagnant but rather dynamic environments.”
However, after reading the surf report from NASA this doesn’t exactly mirror stumbling upon Skeleton Bay via Google Earth (err… Saturn). Magic Islands, the seriously awesome name given to Ligeia Mare’s wave, isn’t exactly a rifling point break. Wave heights are expected to be only about six inches high and moving at about 2.3 feet per second, so you’ll need to bring something with a little extra foam. Ok, a lot of foam. And pack more than just your standard 3/2 or 4/3. Heck, pack at least one of each and plan on layering them. The sea of mostly methane is presumed to be a little less than -300 degrees Fahenheit.
Hey, I didn’t promise you NASA found good waves on another planet’s moon.