Friday, May 14, 2010

Moon of the Day - Titan

Today's moon is Titan, the largest moon of Saturn.

Titan is just a fabulous moon. It's 50% larger than Earth's Moon, and larger than Mercury. It also has a dense atmosphere and is, so far as we know, the only other object in the solar system (besides the Earth) that has stable bodies of surface liquid. Of course Titan is much colder than the Earth, so the surface liquid isn't water... it's liquid hydrocarbons.

It's a great place to look for extraterrestrial life, as the environment is rich in organic molecules. And we've landed the Huygens probe there. Here's a picture from the surface →

Titan also plays an important role in the orbital mechanics used on the Cassini mission. Read all about how the guys at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory are extending the mission another seven years on only 22% fuel capacity in this fascinating New York Times article.

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