content long 11-December-2017 03:15:57

Winners Spain

13-15 years old: The lakes of Titan

 Authors: Paula Morales Palomo, Rocío Martínez-Lage

Sitting on the bank of the river, Gaia glanced at the sun shining in the distance. Earth, the planet from which their ancestors came, was in that direction millions of miles away.

1050 years before a probe, the Cassini-Huygens, launched in 1997 by a group of terrestrial countries explored Saturn and several of its satellites, among them Titan. It seems that the proposal of a group of young people influenced the decision of ESA and NASA to study Titan.

The detailed study of its atmosphere, of the lakes and seas of methane and of its surface facilitated to know this moon. And finally the confirmation of the presence of water in the subsoil!

The high concentration of N2, CO2, CH4, H2O, NH3 and other carbon and hydrogen compounds allowed, despite the faint luminosity on their surface, to establish greenhouses with plants that used CO2 for photosynthesis, while generating O2. This was the beginning of the International Permanent Station that allowed us to explore the Universe and our own Solar System like never before. The discoveries that were made, changed the way of thinking of Earthlings, and a new understanding arose among us.

The microbial life that discovered the Cassini-Huygens probe, with cell membranes formed by nitrogen compounds and a metabolism that operated at very low temperatures, explained why the amount of methane remained constant even though the sun's ultraviolet light disintegrates Gas in the upper layers of the atmosphere, while hydrogen disappears mysteriously from its surface.

A situation quite similar to that which occurs on Earth, where the abnormal concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere is maintained thanks to the contribution of photosynthetic organisms.

Gaia read in her device a fragment of that writing that the young earthlings presented to the contest in 2017: "First were the Moon and Mars, then the International Space Station, then may be the permanent space stations in the satellite and the red planet. And later, why not, Titan. In spite of the dense atmosphere of Titan, the situation of a permanent scientific center on the moon of Saturn would allow to study the space outside the Solar System, something that had not been tried until now. The presence of certain compounds would make the development of human life easier there."

And all because Cassini-Huygens investigated Titan 1050 years ago.

The titanid autumn, so to speak, was coming and Gaia returned to the Station. And as he looked at the sky, he murmured: "methane is raining again”


Last Update: 19 May 2017

For further information please contact: SciTech.editorial@esa.int

Related Articles

See Also