Saturn moon Titan shaped by same forces as Earth

22 Novembre, 2019, 15:54 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • Examples of what these landscapes look like in radar imagery

One of Saturn's moons called Titan is also a very good candidate, and a recent map of the natural satellite has been created by scientists.

The map fully reveals a dynamic world of dunes, lakes, plains, craters and other terrains, said the JPL.

If there comes a day when humans aren't fit to live on Earth anymore, or the possibility of touring the solar system opens up, here's hoping the wonderfully weird world that is Titan, is in the mix. "But instead of water raining down from clouds and filling lakes and seas as on Earth, on Titan what rains down is methane and ethane. that behave as liquids in Titan's frigid climate", it said.

By Lopes, regardless of various variations when it comes to materials, temperature, and gravity, quite a few similarities between Earth and Titan will be noticed when it comes to geological processes.

Rosaly Lopes is a planetary scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory from Pasadena, California, and she, along with her colleagues, produced the first global map of Titan, by putting together images and measurements taken by the Cassini spacecraft.

"Organic materials can, we think, penetrate down to the liquid water ocean and this can provide nutrients necessary for life, if it evolved there", added Lopes, who led the research published in the journal Nature Astronomy. They used data gathered by NASA's Cassini mission during thirteen years of exploration.

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Dr Lopes and her team used radar imagery data to infiltrate Titan's nitrogen and methane-saturated atmosphere. In addition, the team used data from Cassini's visible and infrared instruments, which were able to capture some of Titan's larger geologic features through the methane haze. "The map shows that the different geological terrains have a clear distribution with latitude, globally, and that some terrains cover far more area than others", Lopes said.

Just as on Earth, Titan's surface has been marked by impact craters, liquid- and air-driven erosion, methane-laden rainfall, tectonic plate movement and possible volcanic activity. The planet's surface is frozen crust, but researchers think it may be flowing liquid water deep inside the planet. Much of its surface is covered in plains (~65 percent of the surface) and dunes (17 percent). NASA is planning another mission by 2034, where it will send a drone to fly around the surface of Titan in order to study the moon better.

'It will be really exciting'.

On 13 December 2004 it made its first flyby of Saturn's moons Titan and Dione.

Fortunately, the Cassini spacecraft - a collaborative mission between the American, European and Italian space agencies to study Titan - has been stalking Saturn (and Titan, too) successfully since October 1997. On Earth, hydrocarbons such as methane exists primarily as a gas.

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