Terrific Titan! And a flyby

In honor of this week’s Cassini Titan flyby (learn more about Cassini at http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/), here are some cool facts about Titan, the largest moon orbiting Saturn.  Don’t forget to answer the poll question at the bottom!

  • Titan is the only moon in our solar system with an atmosphere, which is 370 miles high
  • Light from the Sun is so dim, daylight on the surface of Titan looks like deep twilight on Earth
  • Titan is a lot like the Earth because it has an atmosphere, seasons, tectonic processes, and rich organic materials (it’s like an ancient Earth but colder!)
Titan in front of Saturn, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

Titan in front of Saturn, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

  • The temperature of Titan is so cold, the water there is frozen, and the methane flows in liquid rivers and lakes
  • One of Titan’s lakes is similar to the size of Lake Superior
  • Titan appears to have an ocean of liquid water and ammonia under its surface
  • Scientists are hypothesizing that Titan’s source of methane is coming from cryovolcanos (that spew slush!)
  • Scientists guess that methane raindrops on Titan could grow twice as large as Earth rain drops, and fall at snowflake speeds
  • Titan’s ice mountains are named after mountains in J.R.R. Tolkein’s Middle Earth, the tallest known mountain being named after Mt. Doom
  • Cassini carried the Hyugen’s probe, which landed on Titan on Jan. 14 2005, making it our first landing in the outer solar system
Flyby August 2014, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

Flyby August 2014, Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

 

Jupiter and Venus Dancing

Did you know that Jupiter and Venus are dating?  Well, they are dancing at least.  This month the two planets, which happen to be the brightest in our sky, are performing a lovely tango for us.  They are appearing very close together in the sky, something scientists call conjunction.  If you have to get up for work before sunrise (or even if you don’t!) look to the east to see the pretty sight.

Credit: Laurent Laveder, TWAN

Credit: Sky and Telescope