Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

Living Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James Cleaves, Daniele Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Michel Viso

Titan

  • Athena Coustenis
  • François Raulin
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_1594-2

Definition

Titan is the only satellite in the solar system to possess a dense atmosphere, composed essentially of nitrogen (97 %) and methane (2 %). These two molecules give rise to a host of organic compounds, rendering Titan one of the most astrobiologically interesting and unique bodies to study, as currently done by the Cassini-Huygens mission. This is compounded with the seasonal effects on the atmosphere, the geomorphological features on the surface, and the probable internal liquid water ocean all of which make Titan a very promising Earth analogue that can inform us about the emergence and evolution of life, albeit in different conditions.

Overview

Astrobiology, the study of life in the universe, is not only the study of the origins, distribution, and evolution of living beings but also that of structures and processes related to life from its emergence to its development to what we see today. It thus includes the question of the origins of life on Earth and elsewhere, as well...

Keywords

Titan Cassini-Huygens Extraterrestrial organic chemistry Liquid surface Titan’s astrobiology Titan’s atmosphere Titan’s surface Titan’s tholins 
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References and Further Reading

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire d’ Etudes Spatiales et d’ Instrumentation en Astrophysique (LESIA)Observatoire de Paris, CNRS, UPMC Univ. Paris 06, Univ. Paris-DiderotMeudon CedexFrance
  2. 2.LISA – UMR CNRS 7583Université Paris Est Créteil et Paris Diderot, Faculté des Sciences et TechnologieCreteil CedexFrance