Titan – Saturn’s Icy Satellite

Let us travel into the far reaches of our solar system and have a closer look at one of the most interesting objects that floats through space in our stellar ‘neighborhood’. Titan, one of Saturn’s 62 moons, was discovered in 1655 by the Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens and is named after the Titans, gigantic deities from the Greek mythology who possessed tremendous strength. It deserves the name since – among moons – it ranks second in terms of size in our solar system, Jupiter’s Ganymed being the first. The most valuable information about this satellite was gathered by the Cassini-Huygens probe, which arrived in the Saturn space region in 2004 and even landed on Titan in 2005. Titan is an icy moon, which means that its surface consists for the most part of solid ice.

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It has a dense atmosphere, and thus, it is the only natural satellite known to have such a thing. However, this is not its only singularity. Titan is considered to be the object in the solar system that is most akin to our home planet, being the only celestial body where definite evidence of stable deposits of surface liquid has been found. The surface and the outermost layer of the mantle are composed of ice and methane clathrate. The thrilling fact is that, underneath, there might be a whole ocean of liquid water, although temperatures are below zero. For all that, it is quite improbable that you would encounter lifeforms based on water if you would go scuba diving there. The warmth of the Sun is just too far away to sustain any life forms as we know them. Some scientists hold that processes unfolding on Titan might be a key to understand the development of life on Earth since the atmosphere possibly resembles that of the early earth, consisting mainly of nitrogen.

One more gripping thing is that weathermen on Titan might report methane rain that feeds the bodies of liquid on the surface, and thus, accounts for their existence.

 

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