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April 11, 2011

Titan May Not Have Ice Volcanoes

Just recently, a new data analysis from the Cassini spacecraft has indicated that Titan may have a cool interior rather than being capable of having ice volcanoes like originally thought. Like we know from class, Titan is unique because it is the only moon in our solar system with a thick atmosphere. One goal of theb Cassini mission was to find out what is maintaining this dense nitrogen atmosphere. However, geophysicists and gravity experts are now coming to the conclusion that Titan's surface features are affected by weather rather than internal forces. What does this mean for the possibility of life on Titan? It's not good news since this eliminates a possible source of energy for life.

To read the whole article, go to http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110408102443.htm

Posted by emslade at April 11, 2011 09:25 PM


If the interior of Titan is cool, there's still some support for Titan's other features. For example, if the atmosphere isn't due to outgassing, then perhaps Titan has a fast rotation that makes up for it, if that's even possible. Then there could be weather due to the Coriolis Effect as we've learned. I wonder when we'll ever be able to truly know what Titan looks like, after all we can't see the surface due to the thick atmosphere and Titan is one of the farthest Jovian moons. It's not exactly one of the highest priorities either. But it's too bad that Titan may really be cool inside, although it seems like if it had a cool interior, it wouldn't have a thick atmosphere due to positive reinforcement.

Posted by: brdoss at April 12, 2011 04:08 PM

Surely if Titan is indeed shaped by weather and not ice volcanoes, it serves as a big blow to the possibility of life on Titan since as you mentioned ice volcanoes could be a strong potential source of energy for life. However, Titan is still known for its thick atmosphere and perhaps that is the most important aspect of it. Further, since it is a Jovian moon, we likely won't have many opportunities to examine it so this article poses a quite interesting theory that may develop over time

Posted by: nikraman at April 15, 2011 11:46 PM

This is really interesting and very relavent to the topics we are discussing in class at the moment. Although it is a Jovian moon and thus lies too far away, it does have a thick atmosphere, which is very unique.

But just a few months after scientists confirmed thatthe reshapinf of Titan's surface was from ice volcanoes, it's crazy that there is new evidence against this.

Apart from weather, it could also be from meteorite strikes or rain/wind and such external forces. So that would mean the interior of the largest moon of Saturn has a dormant interior?

Posted by: aarthi at April 17, 2011 07:31 PM

To me this says that Titan is not longer one of the top prospects for life. Although there aren't really any others that are popping out at us, Titan has certainly dropped in priority for observation.

It now seems that Europa and Mars are our best bets. Titan, it's been real.

Posted by: strodel at April 19, 2011 12:16 AM

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