Lakes of Titan
Saturn is a beautiful and Titan is a part has a moon of Saturn. Its rings which gives it beauty can be seen from the Earth, with a small telescope. Humans have sent spacecraft towards the planet, which has taken pictures of the rings from very close quarters, and it has confirmed that this is a beautiful place.
This planet is very far from us roughly 1.5 billion kilometers away. It has a lot of moves more than 130 but today I want to talk about the biggest moon, Titan. The picture of the Titan taken from the Earth or from the spacecraft, show it to be as boring, as can be compared to Saturn which is beautiful.
Astronomers think that Titan seems boring due to its dense atmosphere. In 2005 one spacecraft landed on Titan and it real that there are rivers, lakes and sea on this boring moon but it is so bored out there that what is present there is not water but liquid methane. It is something like sui gas and the mountains over there are made of ice from solid.
The moon of Saturn (Titan) is bigger than the out earth moon, not only that it is bigger than the planet mercury. Titan was discovered in 1655, seventh century by Christian Huygens through a telescope. This is the only moon in our solar system which has an atmosphere and atmosphere is 50% thicker, then our atmosphere.
Now this is a problem, because when scientists try to see only see an orange blob. In fact, when Voyager flew past Saturn in 1979, scientist, thought it would give some detailed information, but even the picture taken by that, spacecraft, short and orange blob. But Snr must know that it’s atmosphere is mostly nitrogen gas like our earth and there are some of the gases such as methane and some other hydrocarbons.
Now, this is orange color or a shade is due to the breaking up meeting and hydrocarbons by sunlight. Tighten the very cold place, just like Saturn, which is very far from the Sun (it is 10 times farther compared to the Earth) so is its moon.
So the astronomers think that the temperature on the titan must be -180°C. When you feel cold in New York just imagine the situation on Titan which is -180°C. It was presume that meeting which is present in a gaseous state on our earth would be present in liquid form on Titan because of the extremely low temperature and probably there was rainfall of Methane also.
But how we learn more about this moon because we see it from a distance in just looks like a ball.
In 1997, a spacecraft named “Cassini” went towards Saturn, which reached there in 2004. It was an orbiter that picture of Saturn and its moon for several years. This Cassini also has a probe named “Huygens Probe” which left Cassini in 2005 and went towards Titan and with the help of parachute it crossed the Titan atmosphere and landed on the surface. This is an amazing achievement. We justifiably celebrate the lending of any probe on Mars, but this Probe Huygens touched down on the moon that is 1,500,000,000 km away. It is passing through the clouds and slowly you can see the feature of the Titan landscape.
These are is Mountains. They look similar to the ones on earth, but remember they are made of a different material. It is so cold out there that the mountains are made of ice rock solid ice and features curved out on these mountains, or because of liquid methane (Methane rainfall).
And this black material is hydrocarbons that pass through the atmosphere.
There was another camera on this probe and now we see this landing from another side.
This landing took to and half hours , with the help of parachute. This period has become been compressed into a few minutes. Please see the features closely. You are seeing a moon that is 1,500,000 km away from us. This probe approached the surface, very slowly and landed there. In this video, you can see that round rocks, but not like the ones which you see on our earth but these are made of ice. The Cassini spacecraft kept on taking pictures of the Saturn and its moon for the next 12 years.
In fact, it circled the Titan almost 100 times and book featured in infrared which enabled it to see through the atmosphere. These pictures revealed that there are mountains rivers, and even sand dunes (made of some sort of organic sand) shaped by nitrogen winds. The gas is that probably ocean of water are present below its surface just as it is present in Europa (moon of Jupiter) and Enceladus (another moon of Saturn). Brighton is the only place in our solar system, except for our earth on whose surface lakes or seas are present in liquid form.
Explore lake of Titan
Come, let’s explore one lake on Titan named “Ontario Lacus”.
This is towards the south pole of Titan. This is an animation made out of a retard mapping from the space craft Cassini and this dark color is probably because of the hydrocarbons there. This is a big lake almost 60 times the size of Manchar lake in Pakistan. Yeah, this animation shows us the shape of the lake, and you can see bay-like area towards the might cut by the liquid methane.
There is a river near this lake which is like our river Indus which is entering the lake through a basin. Just think we are thinking about a river of liquid methane on Saturn moon Titan. Now in one sense Titan looks like our earth but believe me it is very astonishing different from our Earth.
Astronomers have discovered a sea near the north pole named “Kraken Mare”. This is the size of the Caspian Sea on earth, but its depth is 1000 feet. The amazing thing is that astronomers have detected waves on this Kraken Mare and the spacecraft Cassini has detected a reflection of sunlight from the sea. That is we know that there is liquid present on Titan.
Can we have life on Titan or not?
There is liquid present there, not water, but liquid methane, then there is no shortage of organic compounds there. Some people have suggested that there is one compound Acrylonitrile whose cell membrane can survive on Titan and cells can form. Now the Acrylonitrile compound has been discovered in a small quantity in the atmosphere and it is presumed that it will reach its surface through rainfall. God knows there might be some amazing type of life present on Titan.
This is just the beginning of the exploration of Titan. A mission “Dragonfly” has been planed which will leave earth in 2026 and reach Titan in 2034. There will be helicopter type probe namely “Rotorcraft” in that space craft, which will explore different areas of titan and send pictures which will tell us whether any life is present there or not, and what sort of chemistry is there on its surface. And we are talking about dreams that another mission is planned in 2045-46 which will explore Kraken Mare through a submarine and who knows it might find out some life which has evolved in the sea.
Please pause for a moment, and think of leaving this dream. We have already achieved a lot. A spacecraft has landed on Titan which is 1,500,000,000 km away from us. We know that there is methane rainfall there in the valleys have been carved out because of these methane rivers. We know that there are volcanoes, there called “Cryovolcanoes” which erupt lava (water, ice) which is very cold. These things are more startling than science fiction and this exploration of Titan tells us that if humans want they can achieve unbelievable things.