Our universe is home to countless mysteries but we really don’t need to step outside our very own solar system to encounter some of them. Right inside our solar system are so many mysteries hidden that it will possible take several decades more to unravel all of them. Titan holds many such mysteries and today we are going to learn a few interesting Titan facts. Honestly, there is quite more to learn about this incredible celestial body. Till now, we have managed to find only a few things about it. So, let us learn what we have discovered so far.
Interesting Titan Facts: 1-5
1. Titan is a moon and it belongs to Saturn. There are actually 150 satellites of Saturn, which are either moons or moonlets. Of these, only 62 have been confirmed to have proper orbits and Titan is one of those 62 moons.
2. Of the 150 satellites of Saturn, 53 have been named by scientists. Titan is one of those satellites that have been named.
3. Titan is Saturn’s largest moon. It is also the second largest moon in our entire solar system. The first spot is taken by Jupiter’s satellite Ganymede.
4. In terms of size, Ganymede beats Titan by only 2%. So, there isn’t much difference between the two when it comes to size.
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Interesting Titan Facts: 6-10
6. Titan is so big that it actually dwarfs the smallest planet in this solar system – the Mercury. Titan is way larger than Mercury but when it comes to mass, Titan is only 40% more massive compared to the innermost planet.
7. Titan is our solar system’s only moon which has a dense atmosphere and clouds too. The atmosphere is mostly made of methane and nitrogen.
8. Also, it turns out that apart from Earth, Titan is only other celestial body in our solar system where liquid cycles – similar to that found on Earth – are found flowing across the body’s surface.
9. Now you might be thinking that the liquid in question is water or is it something else? No! It is not water. The liquid in question is made of liquid ethane and liquid methane. On Earth, ethane and methane are known to be primary components of precious natural gas.
10. NASA’s Cassini spacecraft found the surface of Titan has rivers and lakes that have liquid ethane and liquid methane flowing through them.
Interesting Titan Facts: 11-15
11. These liquid ethane and methane also evaporate and rise up to form clouds and then they rain down as liquid gas just as water rains down on Earth!
12. Okay, when we talk of clouds, it becomes necessary to talk about the atmosphere. Titan is the only moon (satellite) in this solar system to have an atmosphere. The moon remains surrounded by a haze of orange color.
13. It is this haze and the thick atmosphere of Titan that made the early scientists believe that Titan was the largest satellite – even bigger than Ganymede. However, when Voyager spacecraft reached close to Titan back in 1980, scientists understood that Ganymede was actually bigger than Titan.
14. Titan’s atmosphere stretches 600 kilometers above its surface. This means that the atmosphere of Titan reaches even higher that our Earth’s atmosphere.
15. The atmosphere of Titan is very complex and very active. The atmosphere has methane and nitrogen as the primary components. 5% of the entire atmosphere is made of methane while the remaining 95% is made of nitrogen.
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Interesting Titan Facts: 16-20
16. Apart from methane and nitrogen, the atmosphere is also known to have organic molecules that are composed of hydrogen and carbon. Some of these molecules are known to have even oxygen and a few other elements – just as in case of Earth.
17. Now, Titan’s atmosphere is shrouded by a mystery that scientists have not been able to solve till now. The atmosphere of this satellite has methane in it. Sunlight reaches the atmosphere of Titan and it is known that sunlight breaks down methane. So, logically methane should not exist for long or in fact, should have already vanished from atmosphere of Titan. But that’s not the case. This means that methane is getting replenished. But from where? Scientists don’t know that yet and they hold the belief that volcanic activities might be responsible for methane replenishment.
18. There is another interesting thing about the atmosphere of Titan. Cassini spacecraft managed to find polar winds on Titan and studied that these polar winds draw out nitrogen and methane (in a charged state because they interact with sunlight) along the magnetic field of Saturn. These atmospheric gases are being drawn out of the atmosphere in a way similar to what happens on Earth.
19. The orange colored smog that is seen around Titan is the result of nitrogen and methane splitting and recycling in the satellite’s upper atmosphere.
20. According to NASA, when nitrogen and methane split and recombine in upper atmosphere because of interaction with sunlight, they form a wide range of organic molecules. Some of these molecules are pretty heavy and instead of becoming a part of the haze around the moon, they fall on its surface. These hydrocarbons that fall on the surface are the grains of the ‘Sand’ that is found on Titan.
We are not quite done with Titan facts in this article. Stay tuned for the next part where we will speak about the surface, dune fields, magic islands, cryovolcanoes and more. We promise they will be interesting and fun.