What Is Titan?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 9,753
    Science expert Emerald Robinson explains everything about Saturn’s moon, Titan.

    Emerald Robinson: Hi I'm Emerald Robinson, and in this What is video, we're going to explore Saturn's largest moon, Titan.

    Named for a race of giants who were Saturn's brothers and sisters in Greek mythology, Titan was discovered on March 25th, 1655 by the Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens.

    Titan is roughly 3200 miles in diameter, making it one of the largest moons in our solar system, smaller only than Jupiter's Ganymede. Titan is indeed a giant, it's about 50% larger than the Earth's moon and it's even bigger than the planet Mercury.

    Like our moon Titan has what's called synchronous rotation, meaning that its rotation and revolution times are almost identical and the same side always faces Saturn. Unlike our moon, however this takes just under 16 days, instead of about 30 days.

    Of Saturn's 53 known moons, Titan is sixth away from the planet orbiting approximately 759,000 miles away from Saturn's center.

    Although Titan is large it's not very massive, so its gravity is very weak. Objects weighing one 100 pounds on earth would only weigh about 12 pounds on Titan. It's also very cold, with an average temperature of about -289 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Titan has a very thick, cloudy atmosphere made mostly of nitrogen. Because of its dense atmosphere Titan is the only known moon in the solar system to exhibit weather, complete with wind and precipitation. This weather causes Titan's surface to have some very earth-like features such as lakes and rivers.

    In fact, Titan is the only object in the solar system besides earth that has permanent bodies of liquid on its surface. Although the liquid is probably either methane or ethane, substances related to gasoline instead of water. Still scientists continue to think that there could be microscopic life in Titan's lakes.