NASA scientists have released the first geology map of Saturn’s moon Titan. It revealed that Titan has lakes, mountains and dunes, plains and other terrains. The gas giant is the sixth planet in the solar system. It is also the second-largest planet after Jupiter. It has 82 known natural satellites. Among 82 moons, Titan is the largest natural satellite. It is also the second-largest natural satellite in the solar system. Scientists said that Titan is only moon known to have a dense atmosphere. According to a statement issued by Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Arizona State University, Tempe California, and NASA, Titan has clear evidence of stable bodies of surface liquid.
Scientists said that instead of water coming down from clouds in the form of drops on Earth, it is methane and ethane that rains down on Titan. The hydrocarbons behave as liquids in the frigid climate of Titan. Lead author Rosaly Lopes noted that Saturn’s moon has an active methane-based hydrologic cycle. This makes Titan’s surface geologically diverse. Lopes added that many surface features between Earth and Titan are same despite different gravity fields and temperatures. Scientists used data gathered by NASA’s Cassini mission to compile the first global geologic map of Titan. The findings of the study were published in the journal Nature Astronomy.
The Cassini mission was launched by NASA in 1997. It was inserted into the Saturn’s orbit in 2004. During its flybys of Titan, the robotic spacecraft shared vital data. Scientists studied data including the radar imager to penetrate Titan’s atmosphere. They also used Cassini’s infrared instruments to study its larger geologic features. The study concluded that dunes and lakes are relatively young than mountainous terrain. It added that Titan is the only known terrestrial body other than Earth in the solar system to have liquid bodies on its surface. While the areas around the equator are arid, the regions around its poles are wetter. The Cassini probe completed a 20-year mission by crashing into Saturn in 2017.