Titan is the Saturn’s largest moon and is the second largest moon in our solar system. If it were not orbiting Saturn, Titan could be considered a planet as it is larger than Mercury. Titan is covered with a thick atmosphere that some consider to be similar to that of early Earth.
Facts about Titan
- Titan’s diameter is 50 percent larger than Earth’s Moon, making it among the largest natural satellites in the solar system.
- Titan’s most obvious feature is its heavy, hazy atmosphere. The most abundant gas is nitrogen, with methane and ethane clouds and a thick organic smog.
- It was discovered in 1655 by Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens. It is named for mythological Titans, the brothers and sisters of the Greek god Cronus.
- The composition of Titan is known to be water ice over a rocky interior. Its surface has liquid hydrocarbon lakes and the vents of cryovolcanoes, distributed among areas of bright and dark terrain that show evidence of some impact cratering.
- Titan is thought to have several layers: a rocky core, surrounded by layers of crystalline ice. It is likely that the core is still hot, with a layer of liquid water and ammonia.
- Like other moons around their primary planets, Titan has a rotation period that is the same as its orbital period. That means it turns on its axis in the same length of time as it takes to orbit Saturn.
- Titan may have formed as material in orbit around early Saturn began to accrete. Giant impacts and collisions may have disturbed the orbits of Titan and other moons into their current positions.
- Several probes have imaged Titan, but only one has visited the surface — the Huygens lander. It arrived on January 14, 2005, and sent data for about an hour and a half, making it the most distant landing of any mission in the solar system.
Image – http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/multimedia/gallery-indexTitan.html
Profile – http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/titan, http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/saturniansatfact.html