News and commentary about the Great Frontiers

ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) --- This view of Earth's horizon as the sunsets over the Pacific Ocean was taken by an Expedition 7 crewmember onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Anvil tops of thunderclouds are also visible. Credit: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

Image Credit: ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) – Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

A Tour of the Moons of Saturn – Titan



Titan, the largest of the Saturnian moons, with the thick planet-like atmosphere. The moon with the Earth-like surface, of deeply cut fluid channels, broad sea-like basins, pebbled channel beds, lakes, wind-driven sediments, and occasional craters. The alien moon with water ice as rock carved by periodically flowing methane streams and rivers, with hydrocarbons snowing from its nitrogen and methane atmosphere to collect downstream in basins, with methane clouds and perhaps rain, and with brights spots and warms spots that point to heating caused by unknown mechanisms.

Titan, the latest destination in the search for extraterrestrial life and a key to our own terrestrial history of life. Where the methane at the surface and in the atmosphere must be constantly replenished from an unknown vast reservoir. The moon that has planetary scientists scratching their heads and holding hours long meetings to discuss the latest findings painstakingly gathered by Cassini as it attempts to peer through the atmospheric shroud at various wavelengths.

Titan, a distant neighbor in our solar system that has captured the public imagination unlike any other object since Mars.

Titan, where the best is yet to come…

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