content long 21-October-2017 08:36:32

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13-15 years old: The lakes of Titan

 Author: Wiktoria Dzienia

Why I chose Titan’s Lakes:

I have chosen Titan’s Lakes as my project because I find it fascinating how there could be life on other planets/moons. For me, it is a very exciting experience, and I hope that you enjoy my essay.

About Titan:

Titan was first ever discovered in 1655, by a Dutch astronomer named Christiaan Huygens. A fascinating fact is that the Cassini-Huygens mission has also been named after him. Titan is Saturn’s largest moon, and scientists have recently discovered that there are lakes on Titan that consist of liquid Methane and Ethane that are in the form of gas here on Earth. However, NASA had suspected that there might be lakes on Saturn’s moon long before this discovery. In the Solar System, Titan is the only moon that has a dense atmosphere (that consists primarily of nitrogen), and the only planet/moon in space where people have found some signs of liquid (other than Earth of course). Titan is about 50% larger than the Moon, but since it is primarily composed of water ice and rocky material, it is only 80% more massive. This moon is the second largest in the Solar System. Its climate includes wind and rain – it creates surface features similar to those on Earth, such as rivers, lakes, seas and deltas. Seasonal weather patterns shape Titan's surface similarly to Earth. Its Methane cycle is analogous to Earth’s Water Cycle, however at a much lower temperature of about -179 °C.

Titan’s Lakes:

The first lake to be found on Titan was named Ontario Lacus (it is in Titan’s south polar region). On the 22nd July 2006, the Cassini mission took a radar image of the northern latitude (near the pole) which showed a lot of very smooth and quite large patches that were dotted around the surface, suspected to be liquid. The Cassini scientists suspect that rainfall and liquids feed the lakes from underground. Some lakes are thought to dry and fill up again throughout the period of 30 years. This is caused by the seasonal cycle on Saturn and Titan. However, the overall idea of how the depression hosting the lakes came about in the first place is poorly understood as the idea is very fresh. Cassini has also discovered that there might be bubbles of nitrogen in Titan’s Lakes.

My Opinion:

Titan’s Lakes are an exciting discovery showing that there are a lot more thing to yet find out and investigate. Who knows, there might even be life on Titan. This subject is very inspiring and fascinating because scientists don't know what they will find, it makes it even more attractive. We don’t know what the future will bring, and all the other moons/planets can offer more unexpected discoveries.

 


Last Update: 19 May 2017

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

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