The Electric Sands Of A Misty Moisty Moon Of Saturn

The outer Solar System is enshrouded in the perpetual semi-darkness that exists far from the brilliant light and warmth of our Sun. Here, in this cold, shadowy outer kingdom, a quartet of gaseous, techpiled giant, majestic planets reign supreme–Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune–all circled by most of the many moons inhabiting our Sun’s family. Saturn is perhaps the most beautiful planet in our Solar System, surrounded by its fascinating, fabulous rings composed of sparkling frozen icy bits, for which it has long been famous. This second-largest planet in our Star’s family–after the incredible banded behemoth, Jupiter–Saturn also possesses what is arguably the most interesting moon in our Solar System, as well as the second-largest–the hydrocarbon-slashed, moon-world Titan, veiled as it is in a heavy orange smog that has hidden its mysterious face for centuries from the prying eyes of curious observers. Titan is an eerily familiar, but nevertheless tantalizingly alien, moon-world. In March 2017, a team of planetary scientists proposed that Titan possesses yet another of a myriad of truly bizarre features–electric sands that cover its mysterious misty moisty surface. realisticmag

Experiments led by planetary scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in Atlanta suggest that the particles that coat the surface of Titan are “electrically charged”. When the winds of Titan roar at speeds of almost 15 miles per hour, Titan’s non-silicate grains get kicked upwards, and then begin to do a wild hopping dance in a motion that is termed saltation. As the tiny grains bump into one another, they become frictionally charged, in a manner that has been likened to the way a balloon being swept against your hair becomes frictionally charged. The grains clump together in a way that has never been observed for sand dune grains on Earth–the electrically charged grains of sand on Titan become resistant to further motion. The sand grains can maintain that charge for days–or even months–and cling to other hydrocarbon substances. These findings have been published in the March 27, 2017 issue of the journal Nature Geoscience. mommasays

“If you grabbed piles of grains and built a sand castle on Titan, it would perhaps stay together for weeks due to their electrostatic properties. Any spacecraft that lands in regions of granular material on Titan is going to have a tough time staying clean. Think of putting a cat in a box of packing peanuts,” commented geophysicist Dr. Josef Dufek in a March 27, 2017 Georgia Tech Press Release. Dr. Dufek is a professor at Georgia Tech who co-led the study.

Misty Moisty Moon

Until the Cassini spacecraft–carrying the Huygens probe piggyback–arrived at the Saturn system in 2004, very little was known about Titan. All that planetary scientists then knew about Titan was that it was a Mercury-sized moon whose surface was heavily enshrouded beneath a nitrogen-rich, thick atmosphere. However, Cassini successfully mapped Titan’s long-veiled surface, studied its atmospheric reactions, discovered seas of liquid hydrocarbons, and even detached and dispatched the Huygens probe to the misty moon’s surface, where it landed on January 14, 2005–completely rewriting our scientific understanding of this eerily Earth-like and, yet, at the same time, hauntingly alien world.

Before Cassini-Huygens began its intense study of Saturn’s largest moon, planetary scientists only knew Titan as an approximately Mercury-sized hazy orange sphere, blanketed by a fascinating but frustratingly heavy and impenetrable mist. The scientists had also determined that Titan sports a nitrogen atmosphere–the only known world with a dense nitrogen atmosphere besides Earth. However, what might be hidden beneath the smoggy orange shroud of bizarre clouds was still a beckoning, bewitching mystery.

Data derived from Cassini-Huygens reveals that Titan is slashed by lakes and seas of liquid methane and ethane–that are constantly being replenished by large, lazy drops of hydrocarbon rain. On Titan, the hard rain that falls is composed of gasoline-like liquids. The mission also provided new and exciting information that Titan is hiding a subsurface liquid ocean beneath its strange surface. The internal liquid ocean is th ought to be composed of water and ammonia. For more Info please visit these sites:-

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft would eventually complete over 100 targeted flybys above Titan, dispatching the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Huygens probe down, down, down to the strange and long-hidden surface of the secretive, hydrocarbon-tormented moon-world. This historic descent represented the first landing on the surface of a world inhabiting the outer Solar System. As it floated down to Titan’s surface for two and a half hours, Huygens took measurements of the composition of Titan’s atmosphere, as well as some very revealing pictures of its long-hidden surface. The heroic little probe not only managed to survive the remarkable descent and landing, but went on to transmit important new data for over an hour on Titan’s frigid surface–until its batteries finally were drained.

Since that historic first in 2005, planetary scientists from all over the world have studied volumes of new data about Titan, dispatched back to Earth by Huygens and Cassini. This very important information, collected by the hardy spacecraft, revealed many details of a surprisingly Earth-like–as well as unEarthly–moon, and in the process raised intriguing new questions to be answered in the future.

Scientists now know that Titan is a moon-world with seas and lakes composed of liquid methane and ethane located near its poles, with extensive arid regions of hydrocarbon-laden dunes girdling its equator. And hidden deep below Titan’s surface, there is a large liquid ocean.

The great variety of features on Titan’s strange surface has both delighted and surprised planetary scientists–as well as the public. “I am intrigued by how many features on Titan’s surface are remarkably Earth-like, including hydrocarbon rivers, lakes and seas, and equatorial dunes, with liquid methane playing the role on Titan that water plays on Earth,” noted Dr. Linda Spilker in a NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) report on the mission. Dr. Spilker is Cassini project scientist at the JPL, located in Pasadena, California.


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