AS101 Week 11 Lecture 2
Saturn's Moon Titan
Thick atmosphere (1.5 times the pressure of Earth's)
Atmosphere: 98% nitrogen (rest mostly methane, some hydrogen)
Lakes of liquid methane + ethane on surface
Probably liquid water under surface ice
Huygens probe landed on surface, 2005
Picture taken during descent shows possible shoreline and rivers
Radar map from Cassini spacecraft (mothership of Huygens) shows a long river system.
Lots of complex organic molecules.
Chemistry similar to early Earth.
A possible place for life to develop?
Moons of Jupiter
Galilean moons of Jupiter: Io, Europa, Ganymede, Callisto
Io: closest to Jupiter -> heated up most by tidal forces
Elsewhere in the solar system, small objects (like the planet Mercury) lose their internal
heat quickly after they formed, and so geological activity (volcanism, etc.) stopped long
But some of the satellites around Jovian planets are still being heated by tidal stresses.
Io is the closest to Jupiter of the four large Galilean satellites and shows active volcanoes.
Cracks in surface ice suggest liquid underneath.
Smooth surface without craters also suggests the surface is active, and