Using data from NASA’s Cassini probe, scientists “reconstructed” a star. Scientists have reported the first overall geological map of Saturn’s moon, Titan, according to a paper published Wednesday in the British journal Nature Astronomy. The geological map, based on data collected by Cassini, will enhance our understanding of the history and evolution of this potential planet.
In the solar system, only Titan has a so-called “methane cycle” — a methane-based liquid cycle that is similar to the water cycle on Earth. It is a solid and permanent atmosphere and is the only highly developed atmosphere in the solar system’s moons. The star’s surface is covered by mountain rivers, with clouds and rain and lakes — although the composition is methane. To this day, astronomers still see Titan as the closest satellite to Earth’s environment, helping humans solve the mystery of their own birth.
Titan’s methane cycle mechanism has a very important influence on titan’s surface and evolution. However, the hazy atmosphere hinders observations of its surface, making it difficult for researchers to understand Titan’s overall geology.
This time, Rosler-Robers, a scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, and his colleagues, using infrared and radar equipment on NASA’s Cassini, reconstructed the surface of Titan and mapped geological maps, including Titan’s polar regions. The team identified six major geological patterns and determined their relative age and overall distribution. Geological maps show that Titan’s geology is related to latitude height. The youngest terrain is the largest dune area in the equatorial region and the lakes concentrated in the polar regions. However, most of Titan is the most common featureless organic plain in mid-latitudes.
Observations show the extent to which the methane cycle of unearthed vimea is shaped on its surface. Titan’s polar regions are very humid enough to keep methane in liquid, while arid equatorial climates keep the shape of wind-dune dunes intact.
Although Cassini has burned out, all the data collected by the mission still has great analytical value, and one of its main targets, Titan, has been ranked among the top five stars in the solar system most likely to give birth to life.