"The cold temperature means that chemical reactions occur very slowly, so the chances of life are very slim. Weather forecast. In July 2004, NASA's Cassini space probe entered Saturn's distant realm, this time to stay for good. And unveil them it did. Visit our corporate site. "The day I handed in my dissertation, I reduced the daily data and was just shocked. Please deactivate your ad blocker in order to see our subscription offer. Titan, the cloudy moon of Saturn, is one of the least hostile places (for humans) in the outer solar system. Please refresh the page and try again. Another satellite, Tethys, is visible at the bottom left of the picture. You will receive a verification email shortly. Visit our corporate site. The result is that I get a daily weather report for Titan.". Schaller continued with these observations for six years, the time it took her to complete her PhD studies. Titan’s atmosphere is much colder, however, having a temperature at the surface of … Titan provides us with an Earth-like, yet alternative atmospheric circulation system to study. It has lakes of liquid methane, and even weather. Like Earth, the surface temperature of Titan, which is usually in the chilly mid-90 kelvins (around minus 288 degrees Fahrenheit), was significantly warmer in the late afternoon than around dawn. Read more and watch a webcast about the findings in the related press release. NY 10036. "Every morning I download and process that data to determine the amount of cloud cover on Titan. The Weather on Saturn's Moon Titan Is Even More Extreme And Earth-Like Than We Thought . Sure enough, there was a huge cloud in the tropics." Receive news and offers from our other brands? © Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. The National Science Foundation-supported Gemini telescope, equipped with adaptive optics, is able to take a resolved picture of Titan's disk to determine the latitudes and longitudes of the clouds Schaller detected with IRTF. There was a general feeling of excitement and perplexity: what lay beneath this atmosphere? New York, Scientists try to predict what the impact of the coming Northern spring will be. Listen to the winds of Titan here. Live Science is part of Future US Inc, an international media group and leading digital publisher. Titan has a dense atmosphere of 95 percent nitrogen and 5 percent methane at 1.5 times the air pressure on Earth. Evaporated liquids create clouds, which are carried around the planet by winds — and probably cause precipitation. Since Titan is so similar to our planet, some scientists are asking whether it could even support life. Exotic concepts have been proposed, such as balloons or boats to study the lakes, as part of a so-called Titan Saturn System Mission. Before that, Saturn's largest satellite had only been hastily approached by a handful of space probes. "Nearly every night a spectrum of Titan is taken with IRTF," Schaller explains. I emailed Henry Roe, and the next night he triggered observations on Gemini. Receive mail from us on behalf of our trusted partners or sponsors? It was the first time such an observation was made. Titan’s atmosphere is unbreathable, but if you were standing on Titan you would not need a pressurized space suit, only a breathing mask and protection from the cold. So what is it like to study the daily changes of another world? Earlier this year, even fog was discovered at Titan's South Pole. 17 OCTOBER 2017 . Receive news and offers from our other brands? You will receive a verification email shortly. "The year on Titan lasts about 30 Earth years. Future US, Inc. 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, Thank you for signing up to Space. Titan's climate is expected to change rapidly in the coming months, as the distant Saturn system reached the spring equinox in August 2009. "It is now the equivalent of March 21 on Titan. Moreover, Titan's atmospheric cycle is not a water cycle. "I joke that it was Titan's little present to me," said Schaller. © Titan’s atmosphere is similar to Earth’s both in the predominance of nitrogen gas and in surface pressure, which is about 1.5 bars, or 50 percent higher than sea-level pressure on Earth. Titan receives about 1% as much sunlight as Earth. The average surface temperature is about 90.6 K (-182.55°C, or -296.59°F). Get breaking space news and the latest updates on rocket launches, skywatching events and more! This sequence of maps shows varying surface temperatures on Saturn's moon Titan at two-year intervals, from 2004 to 2016. Space is part of Future US Inc, an international media group and leading digital publisher. On Earth, those are gases, but the extremely cold temperature of Titan, around -290°F (-180°C), allows them to be liquid as well (and maybe even solid). Editor's Note: This research was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the federal agency charged with funding basic research and education across all fields of science and engineering. She started observing Titan from the ground in 2002, at the beginning of her PhD, two years before Cassini arrived. Could Titan support life? Stay up to date on the coronavirus outbreak by signing up to our newsletter today. And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: [email protected] explains Schaller. "It is much further away from the Sun," said Schaller. You can tell when there are clouds because the dot gets brighter at certain wavelengths. Titan, the cloudy moon of Saturn, is one of the least hostile places (for humans) in the outer solar system. When there seemed to be a cloud showing up in Titan's atmosphere, Schaller would call her colleague Henry Roe of the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz., who had a target-of-opportunity proposal on the bigger 8-meter Gemini North Telescope. "I was monitoring the weather on Titan using the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility on Mauna Kea. After Cassini and the successful landing of the piggyback European Space Agency Huygens probe on Titan's surface in 2005, the scientific community is already thinking about the next mission to explore Titan.