Astronomy Picture of the Day
Discover the cosmos! Each day we feature a different image or photograph
of our fascinating universe, along with a brief explanation written by a
September 23, 1995
Titan: Saturn's Smog Moon
The largest moon of
Saturn is a rare wonder. Titan is the only one of
Saturn's moons with an atmosphere, and one of only two moons in the
Solar System with this distinction
Triton is the other).
thick cloudy atmosphere is mostly nitrogen, like
Earth's, but contains much
higher percentages of "smog-like" chemicals such as methane and ethane.
The smog may be so thick that it actually rains
"gasoline-like" liquids. The organic nature of some of the chemicals found in
Titan's atmosphere cause some to speculate that Titan may harbor life!
Because of its thick cloud cover, however, Titan's actual surface properties
flew by in 1980 taking the above picture,
and recently much has been learned from
Hubble Space Telescope
currently scheduled for launch in 1997 will map Titan's
surface, helping to solve some of its mysteries.
Tomorrow's picture: Mimas: Small Moon with A Big Crater
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