Saturn's largest moon Titan is the second largest moon in our solar system, second only to Jupiter's Ganymede, which is only 2 percent larger. Titan is bigger than Earth's moon, and even larger than the planet Mercury.
Radius: 2,575 KMs
Orbital Period: 15 days and 22 hours
Orbit Distance: 1.2 million KMs
Surface Temperature: -179°C
Discovered on: 25 March 1655
Discovered by: Christiaan Huygens
Titan is the only moon in our solar system that has clouds and a dense atmosphere, mostly nitrogen and methane. It is also the only other place in the solar system known to have an earthlike cycle of liquids flowing across its surface.
Titan is tidally locked in synchronous rotation with Saturn, and permanently presents one face to the planet as it completes its orbit.
Cassini has revealed that Titan's surface is shaped by rivers and lakes of liquid ethane and methane (the main component of natural gas). These liquids form clouds from which the liquid gases sometimes rain from the sky as water does on Earth.
On Titan it is so cold that water plays the role of rock and lava, and flowing methane carves river channels and fills great lakes with liquid natural gas.
Titan is the only moon in the solar system with a thick atmosphere. Titan's atmospheric pressure is about 60 percent greater than Earth's -- roughly the same pressure found at the bottom of a swimming pool. Because Titan is less massive than Earth, its gravity doesn't hold onto its gaseous envelope as tightly, so the atmosphere extends to an altitude 10 times higher than Earth's - nearly 370 miles (600 km) into space.
Titan's atmosphere is mostly nitrogen and methane, with small amounts of other carbon-rich compounds. High in the atmosphere, methane and nitrogen molecules are split apart by the sun's ultraviolet light and high-energy particles accelerated by Saturn's magnetic field; the products of this splitting recombine to form a variety of organic molecules.
Credit: EarthArchives/NASA Solar System
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