Since the Cassini mission started returning data, more information has been discovered about the moon of Saturn than ever before. Learn great facts about Saturn’s moon Titan by reading this article.
The moon, which is comparable in size to Mercury, had its surface hidden behind a dense atmosphere pregnant with nitrogen. However, the probes have returned extensive data about the surface of Titan and its atmospheric behaviour, finding evidence of bodies of liquid, and even dispatching a probe to the surface, giving us a much clearer picture of this fascinating planet.
More Planet Than Moon
Prior to the Cassini-Huygens probe, this cosmic body of Saturn moons was known mostly as a clouded mystery. One point was established, however: Titan had an atmosphere rich in nitrogen, making it one of only two bodies in the solar system that contain this chemical in significant quantities, apart from Earth. The probe has conducted detailed investigations that throw a new light on this fascinating orb. Combining more than a hundred of flybys and the first landing in the outer solar system ever attempted, the data haul has been significant. Titan contains a large amount of liquid bodies comprised of liquid ethane and methane, particularly in the vicinity of its poles. In addition, there are huge swathes of dry land primarily made up of dunes rich in hydrocarbons belting the planet around its equator. That’s not all, however: below the surface, Titan holds a massive ocean broiling under the planet’s many layers of gas.
The fact that Titan has a cycle of liquid motion over its surface is another thing that the moon has in common with no other planet but Earth. With every Saturn planet season lasting the equivalent of roughly seven and a half Earth years, evidence of the seasons changing can be discovered with vogueplay.com. In summer, rainstorms of methane can be located on the moon’s northern pole. The sand dunes are another point of obvious interest. It’s unlikely that the sand is composed of silicates as on our planet, but rather that it’s made up of water ice frozen solid and mixed in with the hydrocarbons that descend from the atmosphere. These dunes are truly immense in scale, reaching, on average, between one and two kilometres in width and up to hundreds of miles in height.
The probe’s results have been of significant interest to the scientific community. The amount of similarities with the Earth’s mineral profile have exceeded expectations and further elaborate what a unique body Titan is. Its atmospheric composition is similarly intriguing. The probe mapped information on altitude profiles and gaseous constituents as well as isotopic ratios and details of trace gases. It confirmed that carbon and nitrogen make up the lion’s share of the atmosphere. Other substances include propylene, a chemical frequently found in household plastic products on Earth. Another set of particles included complex combinations of chemicals that swirl to create a deadly smog over the face of the planet. As for the methane, its source has not yet been fully established, but its presence alone in such huge quantities is remarkable. The icy carapace around the planet lies atop a salt-rich ocean, varying in intensity around the moon’s surface, leading scientists to conclude that the planet’s surface is approaching rigidity over time. As for the underground ocean, it was discovered by the gravity measurements made by Cassini and could be up to eighty kilometres below the moon’s surface. These are exciting discoveries regarding the moon that will continue to fascinate the astronomy community for a long time.
Guest Writer – Kaya Johnson