Monday, October 4, 2010

Is there a water on Saturn's moon Titan?

Titan, the Saturn's moon, is the only moon in our solar system with an atmosphere, and some scientists even predicted that there is a slight possibility that lakes on Titan might actually contain water. Such theories have started appearing in 2005, after the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn, where a probe discovered that Titan' landscape includes hills, valleys and lakes.

Prof. Akiva Bar-Nun of Tel Aviv University's Department of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences, has done analysis of these lakes by taking into account the chemical components of Titan's atmosphere. His conclusion is that these lakes do not contain water but liquid hydrocarbons like ethane and methane, which are also found in oil and gas wells on Earth.

Professor Bar-Nun explained this by saying that "Titan's unique atmosphere does not include nitrogen and oxygen like Earth's, but rather nitrogen and methane, and solar irradiation of the methane in Titan's atmosphere produces a variety of hydrocarbon gases, which condense in the atmosphere and fall to the surface of Saturn's moon, and upon reaching the cold surface, they liquefy, raining down, flowing through the gullies and accumulating into lakes.

He has also conclude that further solar irradiation of these hydrocarbons in the atmosphere produces tiny aerosols, which give Titan its famed orange glow.

Titan has no water vapor in its air, like our planet does, and this is the main reason why Titan lakes are hydrocarbon based. This also means that Titan can not be used as the laboratory to give us some answers for the investigation of life's emergence on Earth.


Anonymous,  December 1, 2010 at 5:34 AM  

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