Irene Worthington Baron

TITAN-OUR-FUTURE-HOME?

TITAN – OUR FUTURE HOME ?

Titan is a natural satellite of the planet Saturn. Over the years there has been much speculation as to the possibility of Earthlings existing on the surface of Titan.

As of 2013, chemists and astronomers currently report the atmosphere of Titan is primarily 95% nitrogen (N) and 5% methane (CH4).  One molecule of nitrogen has a mass of 1- atomic units.  One molecule of methane has a mass of 10-atomic units.  If both were in a gas state, the methane would float above the nitrogen.

The composition of atmosphere on earth is about 78.09% nitrogen, 20.95% oxygen, 0.93% argon, 0.039% carbon dioxide and small amounts of other gases. It also contains about 1% water vapor.

I am very aware that in the past, since methane is lighter and tends to be in the upper regions of some atmospheres, astronomers using spectroscopes have erroneously reported atmospheres of some planets to be primarily methane.  They were measuring the upper regions of those atmospheres rather than the whole atmosphere. Consequently, until exploratory vehicles invade a planet or moon with equipment to measure and determine the chemicals present in the atmospheres, I shall remain very curious and skeptical.

The current pressure of Titan’s atmosphere has been measured to be 1.5-times that of Earth’s atmosphere.

At sea level on Earth, the atmosphere normally pushes down on surfaces with a force of 14.7-pounds per square inch, or “one atmosphere.” To say that Titan has an atmospheric pressure of 1.5 translates into 22.095-pounds of pressure per square inch. At 10-meters below the ocean’s surface, the water pressure is about double one atmosphere or 29-pounds per square inch.

To determine how that excess pressure would affect you, measure the widest part of your hand by the longest part (from the tip of the middle finger to the base of the palm). Then multiply the two numbers to find the area. My palm it is about 4" X 6" or an area of 24-square inches. On Earth, one side of my hand receives 24 X 14.7 pounds of atmospheric pressure, or 352.8 pounds total.  To determine the pressure of the whole hand, double that to 705.6 pounds.My hand doesn’t implode because my body was formed to withstand the pressure.

On Titan, the current pressure on my hand would be 24-Sq. in. X 22.095-pounds or 530.28-pounds on one side of my hand. The whole hand would have to withstand 1060.56 pounds of pressure. Future pressure of Titan's atmosphere will change as our Sun evolves in its life cycle.

While the current temperature of Titan averages -179o C, when our Sun heats up and expands in about 5-billion years, Titan’s atmospheric temperature may become livable for humans.  The atmospheric pressure will also lessen as the now liquid and solid gases of the atmosphere change.  With the low gravity, some of the atmosphere may escape. Being on Titan a human would experience a light gravity similar to that of Earth’s Moon.

AS the Sun evolves, the surface is expected to expand outward as far as Mars, vaporizing Mercury, Venus and Earth. When Earth becomes too hot for the inhabitants to live in their cooler underground cities, they will have to either move their planet to a more distant and cooler orbit, or move themselves to another site.  I suggest Titan will be colonized.

If, as suggested by findings of the space probe Cassini-Huygens, Titan has a massive underground reservoir/ocean of water (H2O), the heating of the planetary object due to the Sun’s expansion may vaporize the now liquid and solid gases of nitrogen and methane. It will perhaps release much of that underground ocean liquid as oxygen and hydrogen, changing the atmosphere and making it more viable for human life.

Would there have to be terra-forming?  Perhaps. But at that time in our history, mankind should be so  much more advanced technologically that it will appear to be a viable solution.

Yes, Titan is smaller than Earth. It is the second largest moon in the Solar System after Jupiter’s Ganymede.  To give you an indication as to the size comparison, below is a picture of Titan between Earth and our Moon. Think about Titan and how it's going to change in the future.  Our whole Solar System is going to change! Lots of things about which to speculate! :-)

 

 

The next picture illustrates the possible interior of Titan showing the underground ocean.  Links to the photo credits are at the end of this article.

 Cross-section of Titan, moon of Saturn.

 

 

LINKS:

Site with video animation of space vehicle landing on Titan. http://www.space.com/19293-titan-huygens-landing-video.html

Earth’s atmosphere: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmosphere_of_Earth

Titan’s atmosphere: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmosphere_of_Titan, http://www.space.com/15257-titan-saturn-largest-moon-facts-discovery-sdcmp.html

Oceans under Titan’s surface: http://www.space.com/11550-saturn-moon-titan-underground-ocean.html

Earth-Titan size comparison photo: http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&sa=X&tbo=d&biw=1280&bih=907&tbm=isch&tbnid=dt5V_63rh8AICM:&imgrefurl=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Earth-Titan-Moon_size_comparison.PNG&docid=eq8rT0XHmaSMgM&imgurl=http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/3/3a/Earth-Titan-Moon_size_comparison.PNG&w=891&h=480&ei=KGQAUfLYIanh0wGzmoHYBA&zoom=1&iact=rc&dur=282&sig=107839150655874593922&page=1&tbnh=138&tbnw=259&start=0&ndsp=32&ved=1t:429,r:0,s:0,i:85&tx=171&ty=63

Interior of Titan showing ocean area: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titan_(moon)

Comments

Nicely done; a good briefing on Titan and its properties presented in a fashion beginners should find easy to absorb.

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