21 Apr 2019

Cassini found very deep liquid lake on Saturn's moon "Titan"

Cassini found very deep liquid lake on Saturn's moon "Titan"


Titan is the biggest moon of Saturn and the second largest natural satellite in solar system. It is 1.48 times massive than the earths moon and is 1.06 that of the planet Mercury. As, its atmosphere is mainly composed of Nitrogen(97%) and rest are  methane, hydrogen and some other elements in trace amount.

Titan’s atmosphere is very dense(almost opaque), so Voyager 1 on its planetary fly-by of Titan in 1980, couldn’t take any image of Titans surface. Later in 2004, NASA's spacecraft Cassini- Huygens takes first image of Titan’s surface.

Year 2013 was very important in the history of space science because, this year Cassini spacecraft did some stunning discoveries that ever done in the history.

On 4 April, 2004, Cassini reported organic chemicals in Titan’s atmosphere. Same year on 6 June, it reported polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon in upper atmosphere.
Later on 30 September,2013, propane was detected in the atmosphere of Titan by NASA's Cassini spacecraft.

And this was the first ever, when any chemical was detected on any planet or moon, other than the Earth. And again on October 24,2014, Cassini found methane in polar clouds of Titan.

Cassini- Huygens was a mission that was conducted to know more about Planets like Jupiter and Saturn, and has a lander for the largest moon of Saturn named Huygens and Cassini spacecraft was designed for close fly-by of Saturn and it's moon.

Cassini released Huygens on December 25, 2004, which landed on January 14, 2005 successfully. Cassini received  350 pictures of landing site but, due to failure of one of it's receiver another 350 pictures were not received.

Cassini mission was of almost 20 years, which was launched on October 15, 1997 and lasts it's mission on September 14,2017. But, before finishing it’s mission it revels something unexpected about Titan, that was presence of 300 feet(more than 100 meter) deep lake and it's composition.

This  new information reveals about methane rain and evaporation on titan. Although, Titan is only planetary body in solar system other than the Earth which have stable liquid on it's surface.

As, the hydrological cycle of Titan works similar to that of the Earth, with a major difference. Instead of water evaporating, forming cloud and rain, Titan does this all with ethane and methane.

These hydrocarbons are found in form of gas on earth and are stored in tanks by pressurizing but, on Titan these all are found in the liquid form due to very much low temperature of Titan.
 Scientists knew the presence of much larger northern seas filled with methane but, the discovery of norther lake filled with methane was really surprising.

Previously, Cassini had measured the only lake on Titan’s southern hemisphere named Ontario Lacus, with equally filled methane and ethane.

The critical data about deep lake on Titan was obtained during last fly-by of Titan on April 22, 2017.
"This was Cassini's last hurrah at Titan, and it really was a feat," Lunine said.

Cassini which arrived in Saturn’s system in 2004, explored and did mapping of about 620,000 square miles (1.6million square miles) of liquid lakes and seas of Titan, with the help of radar system which sends radio signal and receives it echo.

Next mission to the Titan is “Titan Saturn System Mission(TSSM)” which is supposed to launched by 2020 and will reach to Saturn by 2029. This mission is especially designed to study Saturn’s two moons “Titan” and “Enceladus”. And hope this mission will discover something more like Cassini did.

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