Monday, April 25, 2016

Titan, the second largest moon in our solar system.

The Huygens probe lands on Titan. Image source
In my previous post I wrote about Saturn and how beautiful this planet is. Well, Titan is the largest moon orbiting Saturn and was visited by the Cassini space craft carrying the European space agency built Huygens probe which was released and then descended by parachute to the surface of Titan. The picture shown here is obviously an artists representation of the landing process, unfortunately I wasn't there with my camera :)
This is the first time any craft from Earth has landed on Titan. While descending it took samples of the atmosphere and photographs, the results were beamed back to Earth for analysis. Titan is the only natural satellite known to have it's own atmosphere with clear evidence of :stable: liquid bodies, Methane I think. It's a rather cold little world with temperatures being about minus 180 degrees Celsius. Titan is kind of like our moon in that it is tidally locked with Saturn, it shows the same face to Saturn in much the same way as our moon always shows the same face to us. It's bigger than our moon and takes just a little under 16 days to orbit Saturn, our moon takes about 28 days to orbit Earth, not quite twice as long.
Titan has captured the interest of scientists for centuries now having been discovered by Christiaan Huygens in 1655 but wasn't named as Titan until 1847 by John Herschel in his publication Results of astronomical observations made at the Cape Of Good Hope.  
Titan in orbit around Saturn. Image source

Titan was eventually named after one of the Greek myths about the gods who reigned during the legendary golden age. Today we know who reigns supreme, the one and only God.
Blessings from Geoff in South Africa, home of the Cape of Good hope.

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