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.
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...
KeywordsTitan Cassini-Huygens Extraterrestrial organic chemistry Liquid surface Titan’s astrobiology Titan’s atmosphere Titan’s surface Titan’s tholins
References and Further Reading
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- Coustenis, A., Encrenaz, Th (2013) Life beyond Earth: the search for habitable worlds in the Universe. Cambridge Univ. Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Coustenis A et al (2008) TandEM: Titan and Enceladus mission. Exp Astron. doi:10.1007/s10686-008-9103-zGoogle Scholar
- Dougherty M, Esposito L, Krimigis T (eds) (2009) Saturn from Cassini-Huygens. Springer, New York, 805 pp. ISBN 1402092164Google Scholar
- Hayes A et al (2010) Bathymetry and absorptivity of Titan’s Ontario Lacus. J Geophys Res 115(E09009):11Google Scholar
- Lorenz RD, Mitton J (2008) Titan unveiled. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
- Mueller-Wodarg I, Griffith C, Lellouch E, Cravens T (eds) (2014) Titan: surface, atmosphere and space environment. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Niemann HB, Atreya SK, Demick JE, Gautier D, Haberman JA, Harpold DN, Kasprzak WT, Lunine JI, Owen TC, Raulin F (2010) The composition of Titan’s lower atmosphere and simple surface volatiles as measured by the Cassini-Huygens probe gas chromatograph mass spectrometer experiment. J Geophys Res Planet 115:E1206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Sohl F, Solomonidou A, Wagner FW, et al (2014). Tidal stresses on Titan and implications for its geology and habitability. J Geophys Res 119:1013–1036Google Scholar
- TSSM report 2009, http://sci.esa.int/tandem-tssm/44033-tssm-nasa-esa-joint-summary-report/#