School: Port Credit Secondary School
City: Mississauga (Province: Ontario)
When considering possible future missions, NASA and many other space agencies should mainly consider habitation. With recent concerns geared towards global warming and the well-being of our Earth, it is in our best interest to find another inhabitable planet or moon in this case as an alternate place to call home. Enceladus, and Europa have the possibility of serving this cause, however, Titan comes out on top in every single aspect. The primary difference between Titan and any other moon, is its size. It is the second-largest moon in the Solar System, after Jupiter's moon Ganymede, and is larger than some small planets. The second and most fascinating observation, is the existence of a thick atmosphere, which qualifies it as a planet rather than a moon. Finally, it has visible liquid on top of its surface which can potentially be manipulated in order to appease the basic human needs.
Studying its atmosphere and what can be hidden beneath will unravel the mystery of this moon. Most of the images taken by the Voyager were hazed, unclear and do not show much about the real surface of the moon. Even with more evidence gathered by the Cassini probe, infrared views are still needed to understand some of the geological surface components. However the visible surface features appear to be similar to those on Earth, such as: dunes, rivers, lakes and seas, due to its windy and rainy climate. It is evident that humans will soon be living lavishly on this earth-like planet.
All three selected satellite moons contain water under their frozen surface due to their distance from the sun, however, this moon has liquid lakes of Methane and water on its surface! Titan receives just about 1% of the amount of sunlight Earth does, but because of the presence of ammonia, the water remains liquid even at a temperature as low as 176 K (−97 °C). Finally, there is an amazing climatic polar vortex over Titan’s South Pole. Maintaining a planet-like atmosphere with special climatic features, seasons and cloud formations similar to earth could be inhabitable indicators.
Titan is so similar to Earth, that it is many explorers’ dream moon to probe. From a flying standpoint, Titan has a superior atmosphere to Earth, as it is dense and its gravity is low, making it easier to fly. This discovery has led to the creation and testing of drones which will potentially be sent to Titan to sample its atmosphere, and fly and transmit data back to Earth. The liquids on Titan are also a great point of interest to explorers, with the recent creation of a machine named “The Turtle”. “The Turtle” is meant to dive into Titan’s methane seas to scan and send back discoveries to an orbiter above. A new mission is imperative, in order to use these advanced mechanisms to build on what Cassini has discovered, and to solve and unlock new mysteries.