Planet Saturn has a moon called Titan, which is larger than many objects in our solar system. Titan is the second-largest natural satellite after Ganymede. As per size, it is 50% larger than Earth’s satellite Moon and 80% more massive. Even Titan is larger than Mercury and 40% as massive. Its atmosphere mainly consists of nitrogen for which there is a huge cloud on the sky made with methane and ethane. Moreover, the smog of nitrogen made its surface nearly impossible to visible from the outside.
The bone-chilling temperature of -1790C makes the Titan inhabitable for humans. As per discovery, Titan is Saturn’s first moon and in the solar system, it was the sixth moon. Titan and planet Earth has many similarities, which raises some chances of a human establishment. With some excitement, let’s see some astonishing facts about this large body.
Know more about – Interesting facts about Hubble Telescope
|Discovered by||Christiaan Huygens|
|Discovery date||25th March, 1655|
|Surface area||8.3 x 107 km2|
|Volume||7.16 x 1010 km3|
|Mass||(1.3452 ± 0.0002) x 1023 kg|
|Orbital period||15.945 d|
|Average orbital speed||5.57 km/s|
|Temperature||-179.50C (93.7 K)|
|Surface pressure||1.45 atm|
1. Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens and his brother Constantijn Huygens developed some telescope during 1650. By using some of them Christiaan discovered Titan on 25th March 1650. Both brothers were inspired by Galileo’s four largest moons of Jupiter.
2. The name Titan was first found in John Herschel’s publication “Results of Astronomical Observations Made during the years 1834,5,6,7,8, at the Cape of Good Hope”.
3. The surface pressure of the Titan is 1.45 atm which is 1.19 times that of the Earth. The observations about the surface pressure were proved by the Voyager missions of NASA.
4. The 2004 Cassini mission suggests that Titan is a “super rotator”. Because like Venus, Titan’s atmosphere rotates faster than its surface. It was not clear until 2004 Cassini-Huygens mission that Titan’s atmosphere is opaque, created with multiple haze layers.
5. Earth’s atmosphere is 480 km thick whereas the thickness of the Titan’s atmosphere is 600 m above its surface.
6. The atmosphere of the Titan is composed of 97% nitrogen, 2.7 % methane, and 0.1 to 0.2% hydrogen.
7. Within its total period of rotation Titan spends 95% of its time in Saturn’s magnetosphere, which helps protect it from the solar wind.
8. Methane is responsible for the creation of the greenhouse effect in Titan and for that Titan is much colder than as it is now.
9. Due to its thick cloud and atmosphere, Titan receives only 1% of the total sunlight.
10. The size of the Titan increases by 10 meters during a single rotation around the Saturn.
11. Much of its unknown facts were discovered by Voyager1, Voyager2, and Cassini missions.
12. Cassini’s mission has revealed many secrets about Titan. During many flu bys, Cassini revealed that the Titan surface has many lakes filled with Liquid Hydrocarbon. Titan and Earth are the only objects where nitrogen is present in their atmosphere and has many lakes and sea filled with liquid. Some famous lakes of the Titan are- Ontario, Jingpo Lacus, and Ligeia Mare.
13. Like Earth satellite Moon, Titan is also tidally locked with Saturn. Thus Titan’s the same side of the surface can be visible from Saturn.
14. The orbital period of the Titan is 15 days and 22 hours while maintaining a distance of 120000 kilometers from Saturn.
15. Generally, Jupiter and Saturn’s are formed through the co-accretion, just similar to that of solar planets.
16. The surface of the Titan is much solid than Earth’s. Due to the hard surface, no fold mountains were created on the surface of Titan. Thus much of its mountains have lower height. The highest peak of the Titan is only 3337 m high, which is found in the Mithrim Montes range. Most of its mountains are located near the equator and that area is known is ridge belt.
17. It is reported that there would be some ice volcano’s present on Titan’s surface. But it is not clear till now and under observation.
18. Most of the mountains are named after J.R.R Tolkien’s science fiction book Middle Earth. Few of them are Angmar Mons, Erebor Mons, Moria Mons.
19. There are some area looks exactly dunes. But actually, they are made of solid rocks and formed dune-like shapes due to erosion of methane rains. Absence of silicate in Titan’s surface probes that there is no sand in Titan.
20. Craters also were seen on Titan. Due to its thick atmosphere, satellites couldn’t reveal them. But Radar, SAR, and Cassini have successfully revealed many craters. The 440 kilometers wide two ringed Menrva Crater is one of the Impact craters present on Titan. The Menrva crater was found by Cassini’s Imaging Science Subsystem.
It will take nearly five billion years when Sun will become a red giant star and then the temperature of the Titan will slowly increase.
More facts- Asteroid with a moon:243 Ida