Saturn's Largest Moon Titan: A World Much Like Earth





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Published on Mar 5, 2010

http://facebook.com/ScienceReason ... Titan Saturn System Mission - Titan Canyon Country.

Titan Saturn System Mission (TSSM) is a joint NASA/ESA proposal for an exploration of Saturn and its moons Titan and Enceladus, where many complex phenomena have been revealed by the recent CassiniHuygens mission.

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With an estimated NASA cost of $2.5 Billion (FY07), TSSM was originally proposed to launch in 2020, get gravity assists from Earth and Venus, and arrive at the Saturn system in 2029. The 4-year prime mission would include a two-year Saturn tour, a 2-month Titan aero-sampling phase, and a 20-month Titan orbit phase.

The Titan Saturn System Mission (TSSM) was officially created in January 2009 by the merging of the ESA's Titan and Enceladus Mission (TandEM) with NASA's Titan Explorer 2007 study, although plans to combine both concepts date at least back to early 2008

TSSM was competing against the Europa Jupiter System Mission (EJSM) proposal for funding since then, however in February 2009 it was announced that NASA/ESA had given EJSM priority ahead of TSSM, although TSSM will continue to be studied for a later launch date, probably sometime in the 2020s. Detailed assessment reports of the mission elements as well as a specific concept for the lake landing-module called Titan Mare Explorer (TiME) have been released in February and October 2009, respectively.



Since its discovery in 1655 by the Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens, the surface of Titan has remained largely a mystery. A thick, cloudy atmosphere, largely impenetrable by telescopes and cameras, envelops Saturn's largest moon.

In December 2004, the robotic Huygens probe detached from the Cassini spacecraft and descended into Titan's thick, hazy atmosphere in January of 2005. Lasting a mere 3 hours in the cold atmosphere and on the surface of Titan (about minus 178 degrees Celsius, or minus 289 degrees Fahrenheit), the probe revealed a thick atmosphere, land masses with signs of erosion, and seas of methane on the surface. The Huygens probe came to rest on what appeared to be a floodplain, surrounded by rounded cobbles of water ice.

About 100 kilometers smaller in diameter than Jupiter's moon Ganymede, Titan is the second largest moon in our solar system. With an equatorial radius of 2,575 kilometers (1,600 miles), Titan is larger than both the Earth's moon and the planet Mercury.

Titan orbits Saturn at a distance of about 1.2 million kilometers (745,000 miles), taking almost 16 days to complete a full orbit. Titan is of great interest to scientists because it is the only moon in the solar system known to have clouds, a mysterious, thick, planet-like atmosphere and surface lakes.



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