Titan10 Apr 2009 17:40
The largest moon of Saturn. It's large enough to have its own, fairly dense, atmosphere, and really the only reason it's a moon and not a planet is that it orbits Saturn, rather than directly orbiting the sun. That atmosphere is why I'm interested in it: it is (or at least this was the theory about ten years ago) a very weird mix of nitrogen and hydrocarbons, with some evidence of a sea of liquid methane underneath. This is not just very bizarre, in its own right --- a sort of freezing smog --- but also very promising for the formation of complicated organic polymers. Of course, it's been ten years since I did any serious reading about this, in which time a lot, no doubt, has been learned...
Update, 21 January 2005: Huygens has landed. There are pictures. This is awesome.
- To read:
- Ralph Lorenz and Jacqueline Mitton, Lifting Titan's Veil: Exploring the Giant Moon of Saturn [Looks promising, but it's a 2002 book; surely it would be better to wait five or six years until Cassini has done its work?]
- D. Schulze-Makuch and D. Grinspoon, "Biologically Enhanced Energy and Carbon Cycling on Titan?", physics/0501068
- Melissa G. Trainer, Alexander A. Pavlov, H. Langley DeWitt, Jose L. Jimenez, Christopher P. McKay, Owen B. Toon, and Margaret A. Tolbert, "Organic haze on Titan and the early Earth", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 103 (2007): 18035--18042