A Twilight Moon


Titan's Encircling Haze
Titan's Encircling Haze

In addition to its enshrouding atmosphere, Saturn’s moon Titan also has a high layer of haze that encircles it. Made up of complex hydrocarbons from the breakdown of methane and nitrogen, this haze completely covers the moon and extends over 670 miles into space.

Thick Clouds
Thick Clouds

3,200 miles across, Titan’s atmosphere is 10 times thicker and 4 times more dense than Earth’s. Air pressure on Titan’s surface is 1.5 times ours, or 21.6 lbs/sq. inch. (Not a huge difference but with an average temperature of -290º F it would definitely be a chilling experience!) Wrapped in this haze and with a permanent cover of methane clouds – and with the sun so far away – mid-day on Titan would only be as bright as twilight on Earth.

The only moon known to have its own atmosphere, and one so rich in organic compounds at that, Titan is of great interest to scientists. This and images like it were taken by Cassini on March 27, 2009, during a flyby encounter. More data from that event is anticipated soon.

See a photo from the surface of Titan, taken by the Huygens probe in 2005.

Raw image credit: NASA/JPL

One Comment

  1. Lytton says:

    Great site! Keep up the good work!


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