content long 22-October-2017 10:13:50

Winners Germany

13-15 years old: The lakes of Titan

 Author: Lilly Friedmann

The reasons why I have chosen Titan’s lakes are that I am fascinated not only by the giant lakes but also by the fact that this moon of Saturn has many similarities with our Earth and its moon, more than with anything else in the whole solar system. One example is that the chemical elements in the moon’s atmosphere are similar to the elements that existed on Earth before life started to develop on it. What fascinates me about Titan’s lakes is that they are made of liquid methane, that they evaporate after a certain time and rebuild themselves to new clouds, just like the water cycle on earth.

Titan is the biggest moon of Saturn (and the second biggest in the solar system). It is an exciting moon as it is in some aspects an earth-like planet. Titan is rich in nitrogen and is many kilometres thick. The Titan lakes and rivers consist of liquid methane and other hydrocarbons. Very close to the Titan surface, there are methane clouds from where it rains methane. In this way, the lakes and rivers have developed over a long time. After a while, the methane from the lakes evaporates and builds again new clouds in the atmosphere. This cycle is very similar to the water cycle on earth. The liquid methane has not only built the lakes but has also created erosions on the moon’s surface. These lakes of liquid methane are located at Titan’s North Pole. From space, the lakes look like blue spots. The biggest Titan lakes are much bigger than the lakes e.g. in North America.

In my opinion, the Titan lakes should be explored much more as a lot of things are still unclear. For example, why cannot we see any waves on the flat surface of the lakes although it is confirmed that there is wind on that moon? Another question is why so many lakes are located so close together in one spot, namely at the North Pole? As the methane from the lakes evaporate into the atmosphere, they could build new clouds anywhere, not only at the North Pole. But the big majority of them are found there.

I also ask myself how the methane gas has managed to get through the ice surface of Titan and then build a valley where the gas is staying. Moreover, it would be interesting to know if Saturn and Titan have a relation just like the earth and our moon. With the magnetism between earth and moon, we have e.g. the tides in our seas, maybe something similar exists between Saturn and Titan. Also, the valleys and curves on the surface of Titan look similar to those on earth, how exactly have they been shaped in the long past?

What could we do with so much methane gas? In the future, maybe we could use it to produce some kind of energy? There is also too much methane gas on earth - maybe we could find ways to reduce methane gas by experimenting with the methane gas on Titan?

All in all, I think there are so many interesting questions about Titan and its lakes, how all this has developed and why. There is so much more to explore about the circumstances on Titan that I think it is the most valuable target to follow.

Last Update: 19 May 2017

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