School: Oberoi International School (OGC Campus)
Teachers: Mr.Akarsh Sanjayan and Ms.Vijaylaxmi Vatkar
"Of the three moons, Saturn’s Titan and Enceladus, and Jupiter’s Europa, in my opinion, Titan shows the most promise to be habitable. It meets all the criteria that are required for colonization by humans. Gravity, atmosphere, nutrients, water, pressure, temperature, distance from earth and distance from the Sun are all important parameters affecting the candidacy of a planet for human colonization. Titan’s gravity is about 14% that of Earth’s and its pressure is similar to what we would feel 5 meters underwater (1.45 atm). Its atmosphere is observed to be one and a half times as thick as Earth’s and consists predominantly of nitrogen, just like our blue planet. 1.2 billion kilometers from Earth and 1.434 billion kilometers away from the Sun, Titan is freezing at -300 degrees Fahrenheit but scientists have found lakes of liquid methane on its surface and indications of the existence of water underneath its icy surface. This could be the last piece of the puzzle to find a suitable extraterrestrial prospect for human colonization. I am excited that this discovery could open up a whole new frontier of human exploration and expansion.
From our beginnings in the Rift Valley of the African savannah to settlements in Siberia, Australia, and the Americas, humans have always pushed the boundaries of exploration, discovery, and settlement. Landing on the Moon, deploying a rover on Mars and Cassini’s successful mission to Saturn are all continuations of the human endeavor to expand our knowledge of the universe. This is the very essence of our existence.
If we are able to send another mission to explore Titan, it could help us discover new life forms, resources such as water and rare minerals and extend our understanding in the areas of earth sciences, climate change, wind, solar and rain patterns, long-term effects of climate change and other cycles similar to our own water cycle and Titan’s methane cycle. If we are able to confirm the existence of water on Titan, it opens up strong possibilities of finding other life forms.
In the event that NASA does send a mission to investigate Titan further, a camera/video recorder would send images and video recordings of not only Titan but also Saturn and its various moons. Instruments/materials that detect bio-signatures and water would be necessary along with the ability to bring back samples of the atmosphere, the surface composition (rocks, minerals, soil) and liquid methane. And if water is found, samples of that will be brought back as well! NASA should also consider taking an instrument that will keep us updated on seismic activity, weather patterns and the climate. A small boring machine can be taken to pull out a long 10meter sample of the surface of Titan. The various sediments could give us an idea of the composition of Titan over a period of time.
Cassini Spacecraft’s findings of Titan represent an exciting new chapter in human exploration and our place in human evolution. I can’t wait for the next mission to Titan. 'Bon voyage!' "