Titan, which is the second-largest moon in our solar system, comes with a lot of mystery. There’s a thick layer of hazy methane clouds that blur the surface of Saturn’s satellite, and it prevents an in-depth look at its fascinating traits.
But even though that happens, the scientists have been able to see through those dense clouds, and it’s all thanks to the work of the Cassini probe. And that found Titan’s surface to be made out of giant methane lakes.
The probe orbited the planet known as Saturn between 2004 and 2017, and it passes Titan more than 120 times. And because of these repeated visits, Cassini’s radar instruments were able to examine the features of Titan, which resulted in the first global geologic map of this world.
The First Map of Saturn’s Moon, Titan, Shows Lakes, Labyrinths, And More
The map of Titan was published in Nature Astronomy on Monday, and it has six key features. It shows dunes, plains, lakes, craters, and labyrinth terrain. The surface of Titan is full of plains in the middle latitudes, which makes up to about 65% of the total mapped area. The dunes cross the length of the equator, and the methane lakes are found on the poles of Titan.
The authors of the study stated that the majority of the lakes from Titan are placed at the north pole, and the south pole is kind of dry. That can actually be the result of global climate cycles. The features from Titan show that many processes act on the surface of the moon, which is controlled by the climate, elevation, and seasons.
NASA shared the complete map, which shows all the geologic features. Titan is very similar to Earth, which raises some questions: can it actually be our next home? And how different would it be that way, because of the moon’s methane cycle? Can life exist on methane instead of oxygen?