As we said in our last article, we were not quite done with Titan facts. So, here is another list of facts about Titan that will blow your mind. Any guess what you will learn here? Let us help. We will learn about Cryovolcanoes, magic island, hydrocarbon dunes and much more. So, this article will simply keep getting entertaining as you continue reading. Read on…
Mind Blowing Titan Facts: 1-5
1. Titan has a rich collection of lakes, most of which are concentrated towards the south pole of the celestial body. These lakes are all filled with liquid ethane and methane and also molecules of hydrogen and carbon.
2. The largest lake that Titan has, has been named as Kraken Mare by astronomers on Earth. The Kraken Mare was located by Cassini spacecraft, which flew close to Titan on June 5, 2010.
3. This largest lake of Titan is really massive. The total area covered by this lake is 400,000 square kilometers or 150,000 square miles. So, this makes the lake bigger than Caspian Sea that is present on our Earth.
4. 4 years later after Cassini’s flyby, scientists on Earth identified a very interesting feature. They saw a short-living feature and gave it the name “Magic Island”. Though the actual name is Transient Feature, Magic Island is just a playful name give.
5. So, what really is Magic Island? According to experts, these are large bubbles of nitrogen that are formed on these lakes and seas on Titan. They sit on the surface for some time and then they just vanish. These bubbles are large enough to look like islands and hence the playful name.
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Mind Blowing Titan Facts: 6-10
6. How are these nitrogen bubbles formed? There’s a mystery to this. On Titan, the liquid ethane and liquid methane in lakes and seas and rivers do not mix with each other. In fact, they sit in layers. However, the moon is also known to have methane rains.
7. When the methane rains down they flow to form channels that are temporary. These channels often drain into the larger liquid bodies and in the process, churn the layered liquids. Because of this churning, the nitrogen present in both ethane and methane lakes is released, forming the Magic Islands or Transient Features.
8. The other alternative is that when the rainfall occurs, the raining methane mixes with liquid ethane in these liquid bodies and the resulting mix leads to creation of bubbles and hence, the Transient Features.
9. There is yet another possibility. Despite the fact that Titan is very very cold, there are seasons. During the warmer seasons, according to scientists, the temperature is high enough to heat up the lakes, rivers and seas on Titan. This heating breaks apart the nitrogen in the molecules of liquid ethane and liquid methane.
10. The problem is that the nitrogen release process is way to slow and hence, instead of having bubble eruption, the nitrogen simply fizzes up on the surface and stays provided that the lakes and rivers or seas are not composed of methane only. Had they been only methane, the bubbles would simply pop on surface instead of sitting around for a while.
Mind Blowing Titan Facts: 11-15
11. Here is something really interesting. Scientists THINK that there MIGHT be a huge underground ocean lurking right underneath the icy shell of Titan. Just how did the scientists come to this weird conclusion? Thanks to the data sent over by Cassini spacecraft.
12. The spacecraft during its flyby found that this moon of Saturn has a tilt of 0.3 degrees on its rotation axis as against Earth’s 23 degrees. This data along with the moment of inertia, calculated using the data from Cassini tells that such numbers are only possible only and only if there is a subterranean ocean made of liquid water.
13. Even more interesting, the icy shell of the Titan is actually sliding around. This can happen only if there is a liquid body underneath the shell. In addition to this, the idea of a subterranean ocean is also supported by internal heat flow of Titan, which has also been studied by scientists using data from Cassini.
14. So, it is assumed that Titan’s core is solid, which is covered by a ocean of water. This ocean in turn is covered by a sliding icy shell. The icy shell is assumed to be 93 miles (150 kilometers) to 124 miles (200 kilometers) thick where as the water ocean has a depth of 3 miles or 5 kilometers to 264 miles or 425 kilometers. The remaining of the 3,200 miles or 5,150 kilometers (which is the diameter of Titan) is taken by the solid core.
15. Scientists assume that the proposed subterranean ocean of Titan has possibly ammonia mixed in it rather than hydrocarbons any other substance.
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Mind Blowing Titan Facts: 16-20
16. Coming to the surface of Titan, according to NASA, the moon’s surface is frosty and the usual temperature is -179°C or -290°C. This is why the natural gas (ethane and methane) stays in liquid format on the surface.
17. NASA says that there are volcanic activities on the moon. But the question is, what comes out of those volcanic eruptions? Remember the subterranean ocean theory? NASA says that the water plays the role of lava and rock. So, it is water that flows out in form of lava. This is what is called cryovolcanism.
18. Have you been to a desert on Earth and looked at sand dunes? Well, you get to see such sand dunes on the surface of Titan as well. The only problem is that this ‘sand’ is not really sand. The ‘sand’ in question is made of dark grains on hydrocarbon and the dunes are pretty tall and stretch across Titan’s vast landscape.
19. Did you know that Titan is very similar to Earth at least in terms of forces wind and flowing liquid? Yes, you find these on Titan and these are the reasons why you won’t see many evidences of impact craters as they are gradually erased by these forces. Also, a very few impact craters have been spotted, which suggests that Titan’s surfaceis relatively young.
20. There is yet another force present on Titan. It is none other than the tectonic forces. Tectonic force refers to ground movements caused by pressure emanating outwards from beneath the surface.
Are we done talking about Titan? No, not really! There’s more. So, instead of putting them here in this article, we will put them in our next article on Titan. Sounds good?