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The mystery that had surrounded Titan since the 17th-century observations of Christiaan Huygens and Giovanni Cassini was revealed by a spacecraft named in their honor. [141], Around equinox, strong downburst winds can lift micron-sized solid organic particles up from the dunes to create Titanian dust storms, observed as intense and short-lived brightenings in the infrared.[142]. It has a mass 1/4226 that of Saturn, making it the largest moon of the gas giants relative to the mass of its primary. Since Titan orbits roughly along Saturn’s equatorial plane, and Titan’s tilt relative to the sun is about the same as Saturn’s, Titan’s seasons are on the same schedule as Saturn’s—seasons that last more than seven Earth years, and a year that lasts 29 Earth years. Titan orbits Saturn at 20 Saturn radii. [114] Global maps of the lake distribution on Titan's surface revealed that there is not enough surface methane to account for its continued presence in its atmosphere, and thus that a significant portion must be added through volcanic processes. Let’s go right into it. [140] The low density combined with the dryness of Titan's atmosphere might cause the grains to clump together because of static electricity buildup. [160] The mission is tentatively planned to arrive at Titan in December 2034. Several instruments on the NASA and ESA Cassini-Huygens mission measured the isotopes nitrogen-14 and nitrogen-15 in Titan’s atmosphere. This network of canyons, dubbed Vid Flumina, range in depth from 240 to 570 m and have sides as steep as 40°. [161] It envisions a hot-air balloon floating in Titan's atmosphere for six months. [97], In May 2013, Cassini's radar altimeter observed Titan's Vid Flumina channels, defined as a drainage network connected to Titan's second largest hydrocarbon sea, Ligeia Mare. [119] No similar features have been identified as of 2010. [198], In 2005, astrobiologist Chris McKay argued that if methanogenic life did exist on the surface of Titan, it would likely have a measurable effect on the mixing ratio in the Titan troposphere: levels of hydrogen and acetylene would be measurably lower than otherwise expected. [92][93], On July 8, 2009, Cassini's VIMS observed a specular reflection indicative of a smooth, mirror-like surface, off what today is called Jingpo Lacus, a lake in the north polar region shortly after the area emerged from 15 years of winter darkness. One AU is the distance from Earth to the Sun. [183][197] However, such hypothetical organisms would be required to metabolize at a deep freeze temperature of −179 °C (−290.2 °F; 94.1 K). Recent computer simulations indicate that the dunes may be the result of rare storm winds that happen only every fifteen years when Titan is in equinox. [116][123], In March 2009, structures resembling lava flows were announced in a region of Titan called Hotei Arcus, which appears to fluctuate in brightness over several months. Calculations indicate that these would encounter many of the bodies in the Solar System, including Titan. [31] The low-pressure ice, overlaying a liquid layer of ammonium sulfate, ascends buoyantly, and the unstable system can produce dramatic plume events. [103], In 2016, Cassini found the first evidence of fluid-filled channels on Titan, in a series of deep, steep-sided canyons flowing into Ligeia Mare. After landing, Huygens photographed a dark plain covered in small rocks and pebbles, which are composed of water ice. Further reactions have been studied extensively. They are believed to have formed either by crustal uplifting, like Earth's Grand Canyon, or a lowering of sea level, or perhaps a combination of the two. ", https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2019/pdf/3032.pdf, "A new 1.6-micron map of Titan's surface", "Saharan Sand Dunes Found on Saturn's Moon Titan", "The sand seas of Titan: Cassini RADAR observations of longitudinal dunes", "Violent Methane Storms on Titan May Explain Dune Direction", "Cassini Sees the Two Faces of Titan's Dunes", "Observational evidence for active dust storms on Titan at equinox", "Dust Storms on Titan Spotted for the First Time", "Planetary Satellite Physical Parameters", "40 Years Ago: Pioneer 11 First to Explore Saturn", "Cassini Equinox Mission: Titan Flyby (T-70) – June 21, 2010", "Seeing, touching and smelling the extraordinarily Earth-like world of Titan", "Huygens landing site to be named after Hubert Curien", "New Science Mission to Explore Our Solar System", "NASA Announces New Dragonfly Drone Mission to Explore Titan - The quadcopter was selected to study the moon of Saturn after a "Shark Tank"-like competition that lasted two and a half years", Dragonfly: A Rotorcraft Lander Concept for Scientific Exploration at Titan, "Mission Summary: TANDEM/TSSM Titan and Enceladus Mission", "NASA picks project shortlist for next Discovery mission", "NASA Announces Three New Mission Candidates", "Soaring on Titan: Drone designed to scout Saturn's moon", "TALISE: Titan Lake In-situ Sampling Propelled Explorer", "Discovery Missions for an Icy Moon with Active Plumes", "Titan Submarine: Exploring the Depths of Kraken", "NASA Funds Titan Submarine, Other Far-Out Space Exploration Ideas", "Saturn's moon Titan may harbour simple life forms – and reveal how organisms first formed on Earth", "Have We Discovered Evidence For Life On Titan", "Lakes on Saturn's Moon Titan Filled With Liquid Hydrocarbons Like Ethane and Methane, Not Water", "Titan's haze may hold ingredients for life", "Has Cassini found a universal driver for prebiotic chemistry at Titan? [79][80], The possibility of hydrocarbon seas on Titan was first suggested based on Voyager 1 and 2 data that showed Titan to have a thick atmosphere of approximately the correct temperature and composition to support them, but direct evidence was not obtained until 1995 when data from Hubble and other observations suggested the existence of liquid methane on Titan, either in disconnected pockets or on the scale of satellite-wide oceans, similar to water on Earth.

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