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Space volcanoes on Titan

Date: 18 June 2020 Tags: Space

Issue

A recent probe by NASA’s Cassini to Saturn found out that its moon- Titan indicated the presence of explosive volcanoes.

 

Background

 While space volcanoes were discovered 1979 first, the current features of Titan suggested that the volcanic eruptions on Titan are rather recent and have been continuing.

 

Details

  • Research said that the morphological features on Titan pointed out formations of halos, elevated ramparts, islands and some collapsed sections.

  • These are common with volcanic activities going around and studying it revealed the volcanoes are active on Titan.

  • They also said that there is a close association between polar lakes and proposed volcanic craters and this is consistent with any volcanic origin via eruptions and later collapse.

  • Some craters look fresh and that may mean the volcanic activities have been recent on Titan and it is much likely that they have been continuing till today.

  • The shapes of other volcanic landforms are more or less the same as on Earth and Mars and are formed by the explosion, excavation and collapse.

  • These features are usually at polar regions and near to lakes having methane or nitrogen that can boost the activity.

  • The Cassini mission plunged into the planet's atmosphere in September 2017, in part to protect its moon Enceladus, which Cassini discovered might hold conditions suitable for life.

  • Titan has a lot of land formations similar to those found on Earth such as sand dunes, river valleys and lakes, as suggested by the mission. These features have formed due to temperature differences on the surface of the planet and due to the heat of the Sun.

  • The study further details how Titan has evolved through the ages and states that there may be a certain contributing factor to such eruptions at either end of the satellite.

 

Cassini mission

  • The Cassini–Huygens space-research mission, commonly called Cassini, involved a collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Italian Space Agency (ASI) to send a probe to study the planet Saturn and its system, including its rings and natural satellites.

  • The Flagship-class robotic spacecraft comprised both NASA's Cassini probe and ESA's Huygens lander, which landed on Saturn's largest moon, Titan. Cassini was the fourth space probe to visit Saturn and the first to enter its orbit.

Cassini had several objectives, including:

  • Determining the three-dimensional structure and dynamic behaviour of the rings of Saturn.

  • Determining the composition of the satellite surfaces and the geological history of each object.

  • Determining the nature and origin of the dark material on Iapetus's leading hemisphere.

  • Measuring the three-dimensional structure and dynamic behaviour of the magnetosphere.

  • Studying the dynamic behaviour of Saturn's atmosphere at cloud level.

  • Studying the time variability of Titan's clouds and hazes.

  • Characterizing Titan's surface on a regional scale.

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