Could Saturn’s Moon of Titan Give Scientists Insight into Earth’s Geological Formation?


At its closest, the planet Saturn lies 746 million miles from planet Earth.  At its farthest, when it’s on the other side of the sun, Saturn is approximately 1 billion miles from Earth.  The Saturnian system is complex, with more than sixty moons orbiting the gas giant, which happens to be about nine times larger than the Earth.

About 760000 miles from Saturn’s hazy surface is one of the most fascinating moons in all the Solar System, Titan.  Its surface is riddled with lakes of methane gas, mountains, and sand dunes.  Perhaps its thick atmosphere is what makes this moon even more fascinating, for it’s the only moon in the solar system to have one.  It’s denser than Earth’s and mostly comprised of nitrogen.  Lying outside of Earth’s habitable zone, the temperature is obviously cold, running about negative 179 degrees Celsius on average.  Titan wouldn’t be considered a suitable home to life, at least by Earth’s standards.

While scientists remain skeptical towards the idea that the moon is home to any life, what’s true is that the moon is very much alive in a very large geological way.  In fact, scientists believe that the geological activities currently taking place on Titan may resemble those of early Earth.  Out of any other body in all of the Solar System, Titan’s surface probably resembles Earth’s more than any other.  It’s devoid of many impact craters, has shorelines, canyons, mountains, lakes, oceans, and islands.  It’s also the only other planetary body besides Earth to be home to stable bodies of liquid.

Consider this: In 6 billion years from now, our Sun, a star, will expand into a red giant(Ouch, what that means for our beloved planet Earth is another story..).  The result on Titan will be a rise in surface temperature, making Titan suitable for oceans consisting of H20, water.  It will also result in the depletion of Titan’s thick atmosphere, thus resulting in Titan having one more so similar to that of Earth.  While we wont be here to experience Titan’s complete transformation firsthand, it could give us insight into the early geological processes of a planetary body.

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One thought on “Could Saturn’s Moon of Titan Give Scientists Insight into Earth’s Geological Formation?

  1. Our Solar System

    Titan is perhaps the most fascinating object in the entire solar system. The only other body in the solar system apart from Earth that has large areas of standing water on its surface. In 2020 NASA is hoping to send a lake lander and a hot air balloon to Titan and hopefully then we will see its amazing landscape in detail.

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