NASA maps the whole surface of Titan, the largest moon around Saturn

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This near-infrared, color view from Cassini shows the sun glinting off of Titan’s north polar seas. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. Arizona/Univ. Idaho

NASA’s Cassini mission ended its study of Saturn in 2017, it also flew by Saturn’s moon, Titan.

It is the only known satellite in the solar system with clouds and an impenetrable atmosphere of nitrogen and methane, which gives it a hazy orange appearance.

The mission captured images and data that helped scientists put together a geological map of Titan’s surface.

They have found lakes of liquid methane, dunes of frozen organic material, craters, and even plains!

Just like Earth has a water cycle, Titan, has a methane cycle. Titan’s rivers, lakes, and seas are made of liquid ethane and methane. The methane cycle forms clouds and causes liquid gas to rain from the sky. 

Scientists have discovered that Titan’s sand is made up of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen that are critical to promoting life. Many scientists think these grew in the liquid water ocean below Titan’s icy crust.

NASA’s scientist, “Titan has an atmosphere like Earth. It has wind, it has rain, it has mountains,” Lopes said. “It’s a really very interesting world, and one of the best places in the solar system to look for life.”

NASA plans to launch its Dragonfly Mission which will explore Titan closely in 2034. Dragonfly is like the Mars rover – it will land on Titan and spend two and a half years collecting data on this moon to learn more about whether life can be supported here.


Written by: Preetika Soni. Preetika is a full – time toddler mommy. In the time that is left, she enjoys writing, photography and crochet. She has worked with NDTV, Mumbai and has taught at SCMSophia. 

 

 

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