Moon Titan will become Earth #2?


Saturn’s moon is Titan, the most Earth-like celestial body. More recently, scientists have received a picture in which, for the first time, matter in a liquid state was discovered outside the Earth. In addition, an atmosphere similar to that of Earth was discovered on Titan. Previously, high-profile scientific discoveries have already been associated with Titan, for example, in 2008, an underground ocean was discovered on Titan. Perhaps it is Titan, and not Mars, that will become our future home.

Titan is the second largest moon in the solar system after Ganymede. Titan contains 95% of the mass of all Saturn’s moons. The gravity on Titan is about a seventh of Earth’s gravity. Titan is the only moon in the solar system with a dense atmosphere, and the only moon whose surface is almost impossible to see due to the thick layer of clouds. The pressure at the surface is 1.6 times higher than the pressure of the earth’s atmosphere. Temperature — minus 170-180 ° C
Titan has seas, lakes, and rivers made of methane and ethane, as well as mountains made of ice. Probably, around the stone core, about 3400 km in diameter, there are several layers of ice with different types of crystallization and possibly a layer of liquid. A number of scientists have put forward a hypothesis about the existence of a global subsurface ocean. Comparison of Cassini images from 2005 and 2007 showed that landscape details were shifted by about 30 kilometers. Since Titan is always turned to Saturn on one side, such a shift can be explained by the fact that the icy crust is separated from the main mass of the satellite by a global liquid layer. The movement of the crust can cause the circulation of the atmosphere, which rotates in one direction (from west to east) and drags the crust with it. If the movement of the crust turns out to be uneven, then this will confirm the hypothesis of the existence of the ocean. Presumably it consists of water with ammonia dissolved in it.
This theory was confirmed by a picture of sunlight reflecting off the surface of Titan taken in mid-July 2009 by the Cassini spacecraft. The image was only publicly presented in December 2009, at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Society in San Francisco.

After that, scientists had to spend a lot of time to prove that the detected bright spot is nothing more than a sun glare on the surface of the lake, and not a volcanic eruption or lightning. As a result of further analysis, scientists were able to find out that the detected glare belonged to the huge hydrocarbon basin of the Kraken Sea, the area of ​​u200bu200bwhich is 400 thousand square kilometers, which is larger than the area of ​​​​the largest lake on Earth — the Caspian Sea. According to Cassini data and computer calculations, the composition of the liquid in the lakes is as follows: ethane (76-79%). In second place is propane (7-8%), in third — methane (5-10%). In addition, the lakes contain 2-3% hydrogen cyanide, and about 1% butene, butane and acetylene. According to other hypotheses, the main components are ethane and methane.
The presence of lakes of liquid hydrocarbons on the surface of Titan has not been in doubt since the signs of huge lakes of liquid were discovered by Cassini in the process of studying the surface of Titan using radio waves. Scientists, on the basis of these indirect data, even managed to prove the presence of cycles of global glaciations and thaws on Titan, but so far astronomers have not been able to break through the dense hydrocarbon atmosphere of Titan to capture these lakes. For the first time, the team of researchers working with Cassini managed to do this only now, when in the northern hemisphere of Titan, where most of the lakes are concentrated, winter has ended and its surface has begun to be illuminated again by the rays of the Sun.
«It’s amazing how much the surface of Titan resembles Earth,» Pasadena-based planetary geologist Rosalie Lopez said in August after studying Titan’s surface in detail.
Titan has an atmosphere, which also makes it similar to Earth. Titan’s atmosphere is about 400 kilometers thick and contains several layers of hydrocarbon smog, making Titan the only satellite in the solar system whose surface cannot be observed with a telescope. Smog is also responsible for the anti-greenhouse effect unique to the solar system. The atmosphere is 98.6% nitrogen, and in the near-surface layer, its content decreases to 95%. Thus, Titan and the Earth are the only bodies in the solar system with a dense atmosphere and a predominant content of nitrogen. The diagram shows the structure of Titan. In continuation of this topic, I advise you to read about the journey to Mars and Elon Musk’s Space X project, which plans to make life on Mars a reality.
Titan receives very little solar energy in order to ensure the dynamics of atmospheric processes. It is likely that the powerful tidal influences of Saturn provide energy for moving atmospheric masses, 400 times stronger than the tides caused by the Moon on Earth. The latitudinal location of dune ridges, which are widespread on Titan, speaks in favor of the assumption of a tidal nature of the winds. The surface of Titan at low latitudes was divided into several bright and dark regions with clear boundaries. Near the equator on the leading hemisphere, there is a bright region the size of Australia (also visible in Hubble photographs), which is a mountain range. It was named Xanadu.
The Cassini-Huygens Titan exploration project was launched on October 15, 1997. Although the surface of Titan cannot be observed from space in the visible range, the Cassini instruments are able to photograph the satellite’s topography in other spectra. Cassini continues to actively study Titan. The Huygens probe landed on the surface of Titan in 2005, which made it possible to take pictures of the planet’s landscape, as well as conduct a number of useful studies. The photo shows the landscape of Titan at the landing site of the Huygens probe.

In continuation of the topic, read also about the new Ninth Planet, which was discovered recently.