One of the scientists observing Titan during the Cassiniflyby summed it up perfectly: “I don’t believe it.”
It has been assumed that the atmosphere of Saturn’s moonTitan is made up primarily of methane, and that the hugecloud that hangs over its south pole during Titan’s australsummer must be liquid methane that has vaporized like waterdoes on earth when the sun heats it, and it forms clouds.
Problem is, the cloud is not methane. It can’t be, theparticles it’s made up of are too small.
So what gives? Chris McKay at NASA says, “If those cloudsare really not methane, then a lot of the things we thinkabout Titan are wrong. A lot of things we think about thoseclouds are wrong – the whole explanation of why they’re there.”
They could even be some sort of “organic goo,” with allsorts of implications as yet unknown.
The surface of Titan is also a mystery. Scientist say thatthey can see it, but they don’t yet understand what they’relooking at. Studies of Titan are going to bring newdiscoveries about our universe, and are an example of whyNASA’s funding should not be further reduced.
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