Moon Titan

Category: Research

Introduction

The solar system is made up of a number of different forms. These include planets, the sun, moons, comets, dwarf planets and asteroids. Among all these bodies, there are more than 146 moons that orbit the planets of the solar system. These moons are evident in various shapes, types and sizes. In generality, these moons are bodies in solid form. A few of them have atmospheres. It has been considered that majority of the moons in the solar system were the result of dust and gas discs that went circulating around the planets on which they are found. This was during the early times of the formation of the solar system. 

Titan

Titan is the largest moon in the solar system. It comes second after the Ganymede. Ganymede is found on Jupiter. It is found on the planet called Saturn. It is, in fact, the largest satellite found on Jupiter. Titan is the only natural satellite found in the solar system that has a cloudy atmosphere. This cloudy atmosphere is also dense and resembles that of other planets such as Earth. It has been regarded by scientists that the conditions found on the Titan moon are of quite a similar nature as the conditions of the Earth during its early years. The only difference, they believe, is that the Earth is warmer compared to Titan. This has been attributed to the close nature of the Earth to the sun. Titan is among the spheres that resemble the Earth as per the findings of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NASA is the US administrative agency that is responsible for the space program of the civilian sector. It is also in charge of the research that entails aerospace and aeronautics. 

Titan has been approximated to be 3, 200 miles in terms of its diameter. This translates into 5, 150 kilometers. This size is estimated to be almost half of the size of the Earth. In this way, Titan is virtually as large as the fourth planet from the sun, Mars. The temperature at the surface of the Titan satellite is minus 290 Fahrenheit. This translates to 179 degrees Celsius. It has, therefore, been concluded that the water that is found on the surface of the Titan satellite is as hard as rock. This further makes it a proper environment for methane to exist in its liquid form. The pressure of the surface of this moon is slightly higher than the pressure of the Earth. The pressure of the Earth is at 1 bar at the level of the sea. The pressure of Titan, on the other hand, is at 1.6 bars. The orbital period that has been taken for the Titan satellite is 15,945 days. 

The name that was offered to the Saturn moon, Titan, is derived from the mythology of the Greeks. According to the Greek mythology, Titans were considered to be gods who were the rulers of the universe. This was during the period before the taking of power from the Titans by the Olympians. 

The moon, Titan, was discovered by a Dutch astronomer. This astronomer was known as Christiaan Huygens. This discovery was made in the year of 1655. Many years way after the discovery by Huygens had been made, there arose a probe by NASA. The Huygens lander investigation involved a space travel out into the moon. This journey was made using the Cassini spacecraft which was owned by NASA. The spacecraft was named in the honor of Christiaan Huygens. Huygens, the spacecraft, was the first object that landed on the surface of Titan as an object that was made by humans. The diameter of Titan is estimated to be about 50 percent larger than that of the moon of the Earth. It is, in fact, larger than the planet Mercury. The mass of Titan is, however, half of the mass Mercury planet. 

The areas of the upland of the Titan moon are shorter as compared to those of the Earth. It has been proven that there are a number of mountains on Titan. These mountains, however, are shorter compared to the mountains found on the Erath. The largest mountains on Titan have been, in fact, demonstrated to be only a few hundred yards high. This is no match to the largest mountains of the Earth. The mass of Titan is majorly made up of water in the form of extremely hard ice and material that is made up of some kind of rocky substance. The satellite does not have any magnetic field. 

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Atmosphere of Titan

The satellite, Titan, is surrounded by an orange cloud. This orange surface kept the surface of Titan a mystery for the scientists of the Earth in the initial investigations. This mystery only lasted until the Cassini mission arrived on the exact surface of Titan. The atmosphere of the moon stretches for around 370 miles high; approximately 600 kilometers. This makes the Titan atmosphere a lot higher when compared to that of the Earth. Due to the atmosphere of Titan being so high, the satellite was assumed to be the largest natural satellite in the solar system. This lasted for quite a long time. In 1980, the Voyager was close enough to Titan to make a realization that it was, in fact, smaller compared to Ganymede. 

The atmosphere of Titan has been said to be complex and active. It is majorly made up of nitrogen and methane. Nitrogen takes the larger share of the atmosphere while methane is left with only a small percentage in share. Nitrogen takes ninety five per cent of the atmosphere leaving methane only 5 per cent. There has also been evidence of the existence of elements and other organic molecules in the atmosphere of Titan. These organic molecules comprise of the hydrogen and carbon constituents. The organic molecules also include oxygen in their compositions. Other elements that are supposedly comparable to those that are found in the atmosphere of the Earth are also found in the atmosphere of Titan. These elements have also been said to include those that are essential for the existence of life and its forms. It is due to this relation and discovery that the scientists in charge of the investigatory exploration under the auspices of NASA have arrived at the partial finding that there is the availability of a system that supports life in Titan. 

There are other mysteries that have remained unresolved regarding the atmosphere of the second largest moon in the solar system. These include the existence of the methane gas. The reason for this remaining a mystery is that the effect of sunlight on methane is that it is broken down. Due to this break down of methane by sunlight, scientists have found themselves wondering about how there is still methane in Titan’s atmosphere. They, therefore, believe that there must be a source that replenishes the methane that is lost due to the breakdown by sunlight. Scientists, in trying to understand and resolve this mystery, have co e up with a suggestion that the volcanic activity in Titan is among the probable sources of the replenished methane. This has, however, not been confirmed yet. 

Titan has a great quantity of lakes of methane. These methane lakes are largely concentrated near the southern pole of the moon. There was a discovery of a transitory feature on the surface of Titan in 2014. Having been discovered to bear a number of lakes and seas that are made up of liquid ethane and methane, Titan has now been qualified as the only other body or sphere in the solar system that has a surface with steady liquids. It has been said to also have rivers and rain. Investigations on the satellite have indicated that it has a hydrological rotation. It is only the Earth and Titan that have this quality. 

The majority of the surface of Titan is covered with hydrocarbon sand dunes. These sand dunes have been referred to as being a resemblance of the African Namib desert. Due to the existence of methane in liquid form, it is subject to evaporation resulting in the formation of clouds. This sometimes leads to the formation of methane rains. Cyanide in its gaseous form and methane in ice form hang over the surface of Titan as clouds. The quality of sunlight found in Titan is relatively dim. It is the changes in the quantity of sunlight in its complementing of the seasons that is the main drive of the moon’s climate. 

The Likelihood for the Support of Life

Scientists have considered it a possibility that there could be an increased likelihood of Titan supporting life in many years to come. This is due to the existing conditions of the moon. It is also attributed to the assumption that in the event that the sun’s temperatures are increased, the temperatures on the Titan satellite may possibly experience a sufficient rise that would offer stability to the existence of oceans. The estimates made in relation to this assumption are subject to the approximations of 6 billion years to come. This would result in a Titan that has an almost identical condition as that of the Earth. This would allow an environment that is favorable for the existence of certain forms of life. The complex organic substances that have been assumed to exist in the atmosphere of the Titan satellite have been now been thought to be closer to the surface of the moon than projected.  This offers even more reason and evidence as to the possible inhabitable nature that Titan possesses. Studies and exclusive investigations on the possibility of the support of life on Titan are still ongoing and are not going to be cut short any time soon. 

Conclusion

Among the moons in the entire solar system, so far, the largest is the Ganymede which is positioned on Jupiter. Ganymede is followed by Titan. Titan is found on Saturn and is the largest satellite in the planet. Titan has a number of qualities and other features that had always been mysteries until the travel by Huygens, the spacecraft, to Saturn. This led to several of the initial mysteries such as the average size of the moon and its atmospheric composition became solved. Other mysteries have, however, been left unresolved to this moment. These mysteries include the consistent existence of methane. This is mainly associated with the breaking down nature of sunlight which would, in ideal natural conditions, be depleted upon such exposure to the sun. There is, currently, an increase in the various investigations that are being conducted on the features and conditions of the Titan satellite. These investigations are aimed at getting a clear understanding of the moon. The ultimate result of these inquiries would be the demystification of mysteries regarding the conditions, features and other mysteries of Titan. 

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