Electric Universe forum - Everything Is Electric

gEUlogy - the geology of the earth in an Electric Universe => Other planets and bodies => : electrobleme August 17, 2009, 06:05:47

: Titan - similar gEUlogy to Earth/Mars/Venus/Mercury?
: electrobleme August 17, 2009, 06:05:47
The clash of the Titans

(http://www.everythingselectric.com/images/rivers-titan-streams-lichtenberg-figurespatterns-huygensssurfacesatelliteimages-forum.jpg) (#post_##)
"Rviers and streams" on Titan, showing the familiar Lichtenberg pattern seen on other rocky planets.

Mysterious and puzzling Titan. Saturns planet moon that is larger than Mercury. Freezing cold, smoggy, meant to be an ice rock planet yet images show mountains, depressions and "rivers".

The "rivers and streams" have the same Lichtenberg Pattern that is seen on other rocky planets such as Earth and Mars. Also the same Lichtenberg Figure that mountain ranges show signs of when seen in satellite images.

How has it got its Methane/Ethane rich dirty plasma type atmosphere? Where does the Methane keep coming from on such a cold planet (-180 centigrade)?

Has Titans atmosphere anything to do with the changing plasma flow and magnetic field of Titan? Are the "spiralling magnetic field lines" (http://everythingselectric.com/forum/index.php?topic=102.msg180#msg180) another way for scientists to not say the dreaded words that are Birkeland Currents?

Articles, DIScussion, Research Paper Abstracts etc

** Titans tropical storm clouds trigger off other clouds (http://everythingselectric.com/forum/index.php?topic=100.msg179#msg179)

** Articles and press releases about Titans Tropical Storm Clouds and video - click here (http://everythingselectric.com/forum/index.php?topic=99.0)

** Titans geology and Titan/Saturn Magnetic Fields (http://everythingselectric.com/forum/index.php?topic=102.0)

** Why does Titan look like Earth/Mars (http://www.everythingselectric.com/forum/index.php?topic=100.msg267#msg267) - with same "river" (Lichtenberg) patterns?
** Titans grooved mounds (http://www.everythingselectric.com/forum/index.php?topic=100.msg694#msg694) -  similar to spidery features on Venus called coronae?
** Titans atmosphere (http://www.everythingselectric.com/forum/index.php?topic=100.msg819#msg819) -  more like Earths than any other body in the solar system? How?
** Titans geology (http://www.everythingselectric.com/forum/index.php?topic=100.msg821#msg821) - "It's very similar to the Earth". How and Why?


more Electric Universe geology sites
(http://www.geulogy.com/logos/geu-small.jpg) gEUlogy.com (http://www.geulogy.com/)
(http://www.geulogy.com/logos/geu-small.jpg) gEUlogy.com (http://www.geulogy.com/sitemap/) | articles index
** thunderbolts.info (http://thunderbolts.info/forum/phpBB3/viewforum.php?f=4) | Planetary Science
** thunderbolts TPOD (http://www.thunderbolts.info/tpod/00subjectx.htm#Earth_Geology) | Earth Geology
(http://www.electricyouniverse.com/logos/eye-large.jpg)EYE | gEUlogy and EU photographs (http://www.electricyouniverse.com/eye/)

: Titans tropical storm clouds trigger off other clouds
: electrobleme August 18, 2009, 00:01:24
Titans tropical storm clouds

(http://www.electricyouniverse.com/eye/thumbs/lrg-1221-storms_tropics_titans_methaneclouds_saturnsmoon.jpg) (http://www.electricyouniverse.com/eye/index.php?level=picture&id=1221)

A tropical storm was not what astronomers expected to see when they pointed their telescopes toward the equator of Saturn's moon Titan last summer...
Clouds of vaporized methane are not uncommon on Titan, though they have never before been observed in Titan's tropics....
"The models predicted that the equatorial region should be very dry and should not support cloud formation," said astronomer Henry Roe of Lowell Observatory in Arizona.
aol news - Storm Clouds Found on Saturn's Moon (http://news.aol.com/article/storm-clouds-found-on-saturns-moon/623873?icid=main|htmlws-sb|dl1|link1|http%3A%2F%2Fnews.aol.com%2Farticle%2Fstorm-clouds-found-on-saturns-moon%2F623873)

Saturn's moon Titan has an atmosphere of 98% nitrogen with the rest composed of methane and ethane which form the clouds.  Surpisingly its surface appears to have very similar geology features to earth. Considering the cold temperatures of this planet moon (Titan is larger than Mercury!). How can frozen gas turned into frozen liquid help from "liquid erosion geology"?

In many ways Titan's climate resembles that of Earth, but instead of a water cycle, Titan has a methane cycle. Clouds, rain and lakes all exist on Titan, but they are all made of methane. In the moon's frigid climate, any water is frozen into rock-hard ice.
aol news - Storm Clouds Found on Saturn's Moon (http://news.aol.com/article/storm-clouds-found-on-saturns-moon/623873?icid=main|htmlws-sb|dl1|link1|http%3A%2F%2Fnews.aol.com%2Farticle%2Fstorm-clouds-found-on-saturns-moon%2F623873)

For both Titan and the Earth to have similar geology the only way this can happen in a gravity universe is if its methane weather erodes the way our h2o erosion supposedly does. Titan has a Gravity of 0.14g of Earths, and its average temperature is a rather chilly -180C or 94 Kelvin. Not exactly great conditions for running liquid to erode the landscape.

The other alternative is that a different type of force or phsysical activity created the same type of landscape on both. Meaning the same force affected both of them.  If you include the other planets that all seem to have similar "liquid erosion geology" (Earth, Mars, Titan, Mercury) then the same force has acted on all of them.

"It's really surprising how closely Titan's surface resembles Earth's," noted Rosaly Lopes, a planetary scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., at a recent meeting of the International Astronomical Union in Brazil. "Titan looks more like the Earth than any other body in the solar system, despite the huge differences in temperature and other environmental conditions."
abc news - Scientists Spot Massive Methane Rainstorm on Saturn's Moon (http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=8332125&page=1)

Although "liquid erosion geology" is worshipped and never questioned as the mightiest of terraforming Gods it is hard to accept that all these different planets with all their different weather in the past and now with all their different physical land material composition with all their different levels of gravity can end up with similar features.

If it is an Electrical Universe then could electrical and plasma events/discharges have created these features? Planetary scarring, EDM could be the answer to the question as to how do a lot of the planets have the same landscape forms? Could gEUlogy and weathEu be the answer?

Why does Titans surface look similar to Mars and rocky desert areas on Earth?
Why and how do the planets geology look the same?

(http://www.everythingselectric.com/images/titans-rocky-surface-landscape-images-huygens-satellite-combo-forum.jpg) (http://www.electricyouniverse.com/eye/thumbs/lrg-1227-titans-rocky-surface-landscape-images-huygens-satellite-combo.jpg)

This image shows "ice rocks" on Titans surface. The only reason it shows "ice rocks" is because the mathematical models that predicted virtually nothing correct about Titan say they have to be ice rocks. But they look like normal rocks, the same that you would see in the images from the Mars Rovers (http://www.electricyouniverse.com/eye/index.php?level=album&id=133).

Do they look like any type of ice combined with rock or do they look like normal rocks?

The same goes for the cloudy weather, if it is similar to earth then the weather has to be created by the same force/process that can create clouds on very different planets.

: Why does Titan look like Earth/Mars with same "river" (Lichtenberg) patterns?
: electrobleme September 20, 2009, 08:07:03
Will Titan's terrain be shown to be very similar to Earths, Mars, Venus and Mercury? But why?

(http://www.everythingselectric.com/images/titan-terrain-river-valley-patterns-lichtenberg-figures-cassini-radar-images-ese.jpg) (http://www.electricyouniverse.com/eye/index.php?level=picture&id=1295)

The terrain of Titan will be found to be very similar to the other rocky planets in our Solar System but why? The reason is that the rocky planets were not formed by dust particles in freezing cold space hitting and sticking together. They were formed by different processes that the Electric Universe Theory is investigating and has some ideas on.

How can all the planets have similar effects of mountains, "rivers" etc? The mountains and rivers were caused by EU events, especially the "Thunderbolts of the Gods" type inter planet Plasma Discharges. These left huge scars on planets as can be seen on Mars and on Earth.

The "rivers" seen on rocky planets are likely to be caused by Lightning discharges, that is why they look very similar to Lichtenberg Figures or Lichtenberg Patterns. The same as mountain ranges do when seen from above when they are covered in snow.

The more images that come from Titan and Venus will show they look the much like Earth, Mars and Venus.

In addition to Earth, Titan is the only body in the solar system where liquids directly have been proven to exist. The moon's exceptionally thick atmosphere, where chemical reactions occur at freezing temperatures of -290° Fahrenheit (-179° Celsius), makes this second largest moon of the solar system of special interest for planetary science....

On this equatorial band, bright continent areas and extensive dune regions can be distinguished. Dark spots on the continent areas are of special interest because they are supposed to be fluvial deposits. Additional radar data show channels precisely linked to them, which are dry, canyon-like, and broadly distributed.

Towards the north pole, the picture is much richer. There is a dense network of branching, active river systems similar to those on Earth. They are visible down to small tributaries on radar images and can be seen flowing into multiple lakes. Contrastingly, hardly any channels are found at the south pole.

"The observations of the extensive river structures at the north pole have led the team to a fascinating conclusion ? there must be heavy and frequent rain of liquid hydrocarbons. The measured channels provide the first clues about the composition and relative age of different regions of Titan," said Langhans.
Titans "rivers" and terrain - German Aerospace Center Deutschen Zentrums für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) (http://www.astronomy.com/asy/default.aspx?c=a&id=8637)

Why does Titan have different different "sides"? This is similar to Mars and the Moon and is likely due to either where the planets were caught in the cross fire of "Thunderbolts of the Gods" discharges, were the source or target of these high energy Plasma Discharges or another idea could be when they were formed in an Electric Universe event.

: Titans grooved mounds similar to spidery features on Venus called coronae
: electrobleme January 26, 2010, 07:22:23

Titan (slightly cold) has similar terrain features to Venus (slightly hot)

How in a gravityVerse?

In an electricVerse the forces are the driving force not the process or materials. Although the local materials and conditions will of course affect the outcome they do not always create the process.

(http://www.everythingselectric.com/images/titan-star-hills-grooved-northern-hemisphere-belet-coronae-corona-venus-forum.jpg) (http://www.electricyouniverse.com/eye/index.php?level=picture&id=1795)
titan star (grooved) hills grooved found in the northern hemisphere of titan called Belet - similar to the hills called coronae corona on Venus

They will find more similarities between the planets and Titan. How will or can the same "heat" processes work on Titan? It is because they have it wrong about how these are formed on other planets. It is an Electric Universe.

The next question is how then are all the planets formed similar?

Groovy Hills Rising from Titan Surface
Hills with a wrinkly radial pattern stand out in a new radar image captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft on Dec. 28, 2009.

The grooved mounds in the picture, which are located in a northern hemisphere region known as Belet, are about 80 kilometers (50 miles) wide and about 60 meters (200 feet) high.

The shapes of these landscape features have not been seen on Titan before, though they bear similarity to spidery features known as coronae on Venus. A corona is a circular to elliptical feature thought to result from the flow of heat in a planet's interior.

Like forensic scientists, radar team members are trying to sleuth out what created these lines and hills on Titan.

"This star-shaped pattern of the hills indicates something significant happening in the middle of the star," said Steve Wall of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., a Cassini scientist on the radar team. "It might be caused by tectonic forces, such as the forces that pull the crust of a planet apart, or rainfall that leads to erosion, or an ice intrusion like a dike."

All of these forces produce grooves on Earth's surface, but Wall says the radar team is not yet sure what is happening on Titan.
Groovy Hills Rising from Titan Surface | jpl.nasa.gov (http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/features.cfm?feature=2461)
: Titans atmosphere more like Earths than any other body in the solar system? How?
: electrobleme February 11, 2010, 04:16:51

A moon with atmosphere: Saturn's biggest moon, Titan, has an atmosphere more like ours than any other body in the Solar System. Why?

if planets are not formed according to the accepted models/theories, that predicted a Titan with either methane atmosphere of a 2% pressure of Earth or a nitrogen atmosphere of 20 times Earths, then this may explain why Titan has an atmosphere closer to earths than other planets, why this large moon will be found to have similar topography to Venus, Mars, Earth. They are formed not over billions of years but by the same forces/processes in an Electric Universe. The Gravity Model for planet formation literally sucks.

A moon with atmosphere: Saturn's biggest moon, Titan, has an atmosphere more like ours than any other body in the Solar System. Why?

28 September 1991 by KEN CROSWELL
 Ever since we began to explore the Solar System, we have searched for another Earth. But one by one, the planets have disappointed us: Mars, whose 'canals' once hinted at intelligent beings, is a cold, cratered world, and Venus, whose clouds might have hidden oceans and life, is far too hot to have either. Although scientists no longer expect to find intelligent life on other planets around our Sun, they still want to find worlds like Earth. Their aim is to understand more about the early history of our planet, before life began to reshape its surface layers.

Their best candidate lies not among the planets but in their satellites: Saturn's moon Titan, a world that at first glance seems anything but earthly. Titan lies over a billion kilometres from the Sun and has a temperature of -179 °C. But the temperature is the key; it has frozen the satellite into the past. Titan has a dense nitrogen atmosphere containing many organic compounds. Scientists believe that present-day Titan resembles ancient Earth so much that through it they can study the conditions that fostered the development of life on Earth.

Titan is appropriately named: at 5150 kilo-metres across, not only is it the biggest moon of Saturn but it is also the second biggest moon of the 61 known in the Solar System. Titan dwarfs the Moon (which is 3476 kilometres in diameter), surpasses the planets Mercury (4878 kilometres) and Pluto (2300 kilometres), and rivals Mars (6787 kilometres). Titan is also fast, compared to our Moon. At 1 221 850 kilometres from Saturn, a separation more than three times the distance between the Moon and Earth, Titan completes an orbit in about half the time that our Moon takes. Saturn has a mass 95 times bigger than that of Earth, so it forces Titan to orbit it much faster than our Moon orbits.

Because Titan is so big, it was the first of Saturn's 18 moons to be found. The Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens discovered Titan in 1655, but astronomers learned little about the world until the 20th century. Titan may be a big moon, but it is still a distant member of the outer Solar System.

Titan's most remarkable feature is neither its size nor its distance but its atmosphere. Titan is the only moon with a dense atmosphere, and we now know that this atmosphere is strikingly similar to ours. The first hint of an atmosphere came in 1908, when Spanish astronomer Jose Comas Sola reported that the edges of Titan looked darker than its centre. This phenomenon suggests an atmosphere that can absorb enough light to give the body fuzzy edges. But no one knows if Sola really observed this effect. He also reported seeing clouds on some of Jupiter's moons, which we now know are bare worlds of rock and ice.

The first definite proof that Titan had an atmosphere came in 1944, when the American astronomer Gerard Kuiper analysed the spectrum of sunlight reflected from Titan. Kuiper noticed that certain wavelengths present in sunlight reaching Earth were absent in the light that Titan reflected. The missing parts of the spectrum matched those absorbed by the gas methane in experiments, so Kuiper concluded that Titan was surrounded by methane - making it the first satellite known to have an atmosphere.

Methane is a common gas in the outer Solar System: by the 1930s, astronomers had discovered it in the atmospheres of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. But Titan's atmosphere was nothing like the thick layers of gas in the giant planets. If methane were the only gas, Kuiper's work implied that the atmospheric pressure on Titan was perhaps 1 per cent of that on Earth, similar to Mars.

The methane atmosphere that Kuiper discovered was nonetheless a novelty, for it surrounded not a planet but a moon. Planets such as Earth can easily hold on to the gases in their atmospheres, for they are big enough to have strong gravity. But how can an atmosphere exist around Titan when a planet such as Mercury has almost none? Mercury is slightly smaller than Titan, but it is also denser, so its gravity is greater and it should be able to hold onto gases better.

Kuiper himself supplied the answer: the ability of a body to retain gases depends not only on the object's gravity but also on its temperature. A cold body like Titan can retain an atmosphere more easily than a hot body like Mercury: the lower the temperature, the more slowly the molecules in the atmosphere move, and so the more easily the planet or satellite can hold onto them. Titan's low temperature more than compensates for its weaker gravity.

The picture of Titan that emerged from Kuiper's work was captured in vivid form by American artist Chesley Bonestell in 1961. Bonestell's painting shows the frigid surface of Titan beneath a huge crescent Saturn suspended in the dark sky. Toward the horizon, the sky is lighter, suggesting a thin atmosphere. On Titan's surface, a brown-red mountain peak, partially covered with snow, dominates the scene, while methane fog blankets the valley below.

Sunshine and clouds

Methane is the first step towards the formation of complex organic molecules. When sunlight strikes methane, it forms bigger hydrocarbons, such as ethane and acetylene (ethyne). Sure enough, astronomers detected some of these hydrocarbons during the 1970s. And they wondered whether Titan might have even more complicated organic compounds. Titan is an orange world, quite a different colour from yellow Saturn. The complex organic compounds that sunlight creates are also orange, so scientists began to believe - correctly, as it turned out - that Titan's colour arises from complex organic compounds.

Astronomers also found evidence of clouds on Titan. Joseph Veverka of Cornell University and Benjamin Zellner, then at the University of Arizona, independently observed that sunlight reflected from Titan was polarised. Sunlight is un-polarised, but reflections and refractions within a cloudy atmosphere produce light polarised in a distinctive way. The light Veverka and Zellner observed was polarised, suggesting that Titan has clouds.

As astronomers assimilated these and other observations during the 1970s, two very different models emerged for Titan's atmosphere. One model, devised by Robert Danielson and John Caldwell of Princeton University, called for Titan to have a methane atmosphere with a pressure 2 per cent that of Earth. Though thin by our standards, it was nonetheless thicker than the atmosphere of Mars.

A radically different model was proposed by Donald Hunten of the University of Arizona. Hunten believed that Titan had a dense atmosphere of nitrogen, the gas that makes up 78 per cent of Earth's atmosphere. Methane was only a minor constituent. No one had ever found nitrogen on Titan, but Hunten believed that was because this gas, an absorber of ultraviolet rather than visible or infrared radiation, is so difficult to detect from Earth. Hunten put the pressure of this nitrogen atmosphere at 20 times the atmospheric pressure on Earth.

The two different models led to predictions of different temperatures for Titan's surface. If Titan had only a thin atmosphere, then it must be quite cold, because the satellite lies far from the warmth of the Sun. If, on the other hand, there was a thick atmosphere, it would be warmer, for the gases would trap what little heat Titan receives from the Sun.

During the 1960s and 1970s, astronomers used infrared and radio frequency observations to deduce Titan's temperature, but their results disagreed with one another. In the late 1970s, instrumental improvement led to the most trustworthy measurement - which later turned out to be correct. It showed that Titan is quite cold, about as cold as it should be for a world so far from the Sun. This result argued against the thick nitrogen atmosphere, and nearly all astronomers believed that Titan had only a thin methane atmosphere.

When spacecraft reached Saturn, they proved this consensus wrong. The first spacecraft to reach Saturn was Pioneer 11. Launched in 1973, Pioneer 11 flew past Jupiter in 1974 and Saturn in 1979. Pioneer discovered a new ring around Saturn and nearly collided with an uncharted moon. But the few pictures Pioneer took of Titan showed little detail.

The next year, though, the far more sophisticated Voyager 1 spacecraft reached Saturn. Launched in 1977, Voyager 1 sailed past Saturn on 12 November 1980. Even as it returned stunning images of Saturn and its rings, scientists waited with great excitement for Voyager's close flyby of Titan. The spacecraft passed just 4000 kilometres from Titan, a distance less than the satellite's diameter, and nearly everything we now know about Titan came from this encounter. Voyager 2 also flew past Saturn, in 1981, but it passed far from Titan and provided little new or surprising information.

Despite Voyager 1's close approach, Titan was a huge disappointment. Picture after picture showed the moon wrapped in orange haze and clouds. No break in the clouds appeared, and no view emerged of the satellite's surface. The only thing Voyager's cameras showed was that clouds in the northern hemisphere were slightly darker than those in the south.

The exciting results came not from Voyager's cameras but from instruments that probed the cloudy atmosphere. To the surprise of nearly everyone involved, Voyager discovered that Titan's atmosphere is dense, as Hunten had predicted. The atmospheric pressure is 1.5 times that on Earth, so the atmosphere is much thinner than Hunten had predicted. This explains why Titan is so cold; its atmosphere can trap little heat from the Sun. But Voyager vindicated Hunten's other prediction, for it found that nitrogen makes up somewhere between 82 and 99 per cent of the atmosphere.

The spacecraft also found the methane that had been detected from Earth nearly 40 years before, but its measurements showed that methane accounts for no more than a few per cent of the atmosphere. In addition, Voyager found several previously undetected hydrocarbons as well as hydrogen cyanide, one of the building blocks of amino acids. The organic compounds that give the moon its orange colour turned out to be similar to those in the photochemical smog that plagues Earth's major cities. But Voyager could find no oxygen.

Nonetheless, the atmosphere Voyager discovered is astonishing. Though over a billion kilometres from the Sun, Titan's atmosphere resembles air on Earth, with its 78 per cent nitrogen, more than any other atmosphere in the Solar System. Earth's nearest neighbours are very different. Venus has a far thicker atmosphere than ours, whereas Mars's atmosphere is far thinner, and both are primarily carbon dioxide rather than nitrogen. The only other known nitrogen atmosphere surrounds Neptune's moon Triton, but there the air is much thinner than on either Earth or Titan. Pluto may also have a nitrogen atmosphere, but it is probably even more tenuous.

How did an atmosphere so like Earth's develop around such a distant world? Jupiter and Saturn contain enormous amounts of hydrogen and helium, which they acquired at birth. All the planets arose from a spinning disc of gas and dust that surrounded the newborn Sun. This disc was mostly hydrogen and helium, and the giant planets including Jupiter and Saturn grabbed plenty of these gases for themselves.

Titan could never do that. If it ever took hydrogen and helium from the primordial solar disc, they are now long gone, because Titan is too small to hold onto such light gases. Nitrogen, though, is heavier. A nitrogen molecule weighs 14 times more than a hydrogen molecule. There was enough in the solar disc to supply this atmosphere, so could Titan have obtained its nitrogen at birth, from the primordial cloud of gas?

Astronomers think not. They argue that the element neon was about as abundant in the solar disc as nitrogen, and neon is heavy enough for Titan to retain. If Titan took its nitrogen from the primordial disc, it should also have grabbed plenty of neon at the same time. This neon should still exist as a gas in Titan's atmosphere today, for neon does not combine with other atoms nor does it become liquid or solid at Titan's temperature. But Voyager did not find neon in Titan's atmosphere.

There are two other possible sources of Titan's nitrogen. One is that as Titan was forming, nitrogen gas from the solar disc was trapped in the ice that created Titan. This is plausible, because Titan's interior is about half water ice and half rock. Nitrogen can be held within the crystal lattice of ice in the crystalline form known as a clathrate. Since Titan's birth, this nitrogen gas could have leaked out of the ice, creating the dense atmosphere. There is no neon in Titan's air, because neon, unlike nitrogen, is not easy for ice to trap.

Titan may also have received its nitrogen indirectly, from ammonia. There is ammonia in the atmospheres of both Jupiter and Saturn, and Titan itself may have acquired ammonia when it formed. Over time, sunlight broke the ammonia molecules into nitrogen and hydrogen atoms. Because they were light, the hydrogen atoms escaped, leaving Titan with a nitrogen atmosphere. This scenario has important implications for Titan's history, because this reaction would not happen at the temperatures existing there today. To make nitrogen molecules, Titan must have been about 50 degrees warmer at some stage in its life.

Astronomers are currently debating which scenario best explains Titan's abundance of nitrogen. Both processes may contribute; some of Titan's nitrogen may have been trapped in its ice at birth and then escaped into the atmosphere, while the rest may have come from ammonia. One way to test for the former process would be to measure the argon present in Titan's atmosphere. Although neon would not have formed a clathrate, argon could, and so should form a few per cent of the atmosphere if the nitrogen comes from ice, and maybe a thousand times less if ammonia is the source.

Perhaps the most intriguing facet of Titan's atmosphere is that it completely hides the surface of the moon. The only thing we know for certain about the surface is that it must be dark. Titan is about 10 times farther from the Sun than Earth, so sunlight striking Titan's atmosphere has only 1 per cent of the intensity of sunlight here on Earth. The orange haze and clouds further attenuate the light, and Titan's Sun might well look no brighter than the Moon does on Earth.

The hydrocarbons in Titan's atmosphere suggest that there will also be hydrocarbons on the surface. Sunlight striking methane creates the more complex organic compounds that colour the satellite orange - Titan's smog. Many of these organic compounds are so heavy that they sink to the surface. Some astronomers have then suggested that these compounds fall into a huge ethane ocean that covers all Titan.

Why ethane? When sunlight strikes methane, the most common product is ethane. Once created, the ethane sinks to the surface as a liquid, like rain. Over billions of years, this ethane could accumulate to a depth of roughly a kilometre and produce a huge ocean. Such an ethane ocean would solve a puzzle: why does Titan have methane in its atmosphere? After all, sunlight continually destroys methane, so there should not be any left. But if the ethane ocean has methane dissolved in it, then Titan has a vast reservoir of methane that can supply the gas as it is destroyed in the atmosphere.

Another Earth?

Despite its appeal, recent radar results rule against such a Titanic ocean. In 1990, Duane Muhleman of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena reported that the variation in radar signals he and his colleagues had bounced off Titan indicate that Titan cannot be covered entirely with liquid. Instead, the scientists found variations in Titan's topography. This work does not rule out small rivers and lakes of methane and ethane, but it does indicate that the whole surface cannot be covered with liquid.

Though the nature of Titan's surface is a mystery, the composition of the world itself is not. About half of Titan's mass is rock, and about half is water ice. The rock, being denser, forms the satellite's core, while the lighter ice surrounds the core and makes a mantle. Astronomers know Titan's composition because its density - 1.88 grams per cubic centimetre - is about halfway between the density of rock and the density of water ice. Titan's density is similar to that of Jupiter's moons Ganymede (1.94 grams per cubic centimetre) and Callisto (1.86 grams per cubic centimetre).

Unlike those much simpler worlds, however, Titan offers a unique glimpse into the past of our own planet and the conditions that prevailed on Earth before life arose. Like Titan, ancient Earth had complex organic compounds on its surface, and next to no oxygen in its atmosphere. Though we humans need oxygen to live, the first life arose without.

If Titan resembles ancient Earth, why has it not advanced to Earth-like status? Why, after four and a half billion years, has no life arisen? The answer is that there is no liquid water on Titan. Liquid water is vital for life, making up, after all, most of us. Moreover, liquid water is an excellent medium for chemical reactions. For example, if you threw Titan's complex organic compounds into liquid water, you would create amino acids, the first stage to making protein.

Ironically, of course, Titan does have lots of water, because the satellite's interior is about half ice. But at -179 °C this water stays frozen. Titan's great distance from the Sun has held the satellite into a 'pre-life' stage. Imagine the ultimate scientific experiment: drag Titan closer to the Sun, where the satellite warms up, the water ice melts, and we have a chance to watch the chemical reactions that may create life.

To study this ancient Earth, scientists from NASA and ESA are preparing a new mission to Saturn. Named for the astronomer who studied Saturn's rings and discovered four of its moons, the Cassini mission will place a spacecraft into orbit around the planet. Attached to the spacecraft's side will be a probe to study Titan, appropriately named Huygens.

Following its launch in 1996, Cassini will travel a complicated trajectory to reach Saturn. It will go around the Solar System and pass Earth, using our gravity to head for Jupiter, whose gravity will then send it out to Saturn. Cassini's long trajectory means a long flight time, with arrival at Saturn slated for the next century, late in the year 2002.

Cassini will take twice as long to reach Saturn as Voyager 1 did. But the two missions are not comparable: Voyager 1 merely flew past Saturn, whereas Cassini will perform the more difficult task of orbiting the planet. For this reason, Cassini must carry more fuel than Voyager did, making the spacecraft much heavier. When it arrives at Saturn, Cassini will use this fuel to accelerate into orbit around the planet.

But Saturn is definitely worth the trip. Because it will orbit Saturn rather than fly past, Cassini can photograph Saturn, its rings and its moons for many years. One of Cassini's prime targets will be Titan. After it arrives at Saturn, Cassini will hurl the Huygens probe toward Titan. The probe will fall through the atmosphere for several hours, determining composition, density, and temperature.

The probe also carries a camera. After it breaks through the clouds and before it lands, this camera should return a few photographs of Titan's hidden surface. We may finally see whether or not Titan has seas, lakes or even oceans. We may also see mountains and valleys on the surface.

The probe may or may not survive its landing, since we do not know whether it will land in a lake or on solid ground. Even if the probe survives, though, it will probably not tell us much more, for the probe can communicate with Earth only by transmitting to the main Cassini spacecraft. Huygens has a limited range; once Cassini is out of reach, perhaps a few minutes after the hoped-for landing, the probe cannot send data to Earth.

But the probe is not our only hope. The Cassini spacecraft will send radar signals through Titan's haze and bounce them off the surface. Just as Magellan is now mapping the surface of Venus through opaque clouds, Cassini will scrutinise the surface of Titan. By giving us our first thorough look at Titan, Cassini will reveal not only a distant world of the outer Solar System but also a close cousin to ancient Earth.
A moon with atmosphere: Saturn's biggest moon, Titan, has an atmosphere more like ours than any other body in the Solar System. Why? (http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg13117885.000-a-moon-with-atmosphere-saturns-biggest-moon-titan-has-an-atmosphere-more-like-ours-than-any-other-body-in-the-solar-system-why.html?full=true)
: Titan - "It's very similar to the Earth" (dunes, "erosion" etc). How and Why?
: electrobleme February 11, 2010, 05:07:36

Titan - It's very similar to the Earth.

"We have on Titan many of the geological features that we find on Earth," enthuses Rosaly Lopes. We find volcanism, we find tectonics, we find erosion and deposition, and wind activity forming dunes. It's very similar to the Earth. But there is a crucial difference: Titan is so cold that most of the water is solid."

2 options, either the frozen methane creates the same geology as earth or the geology of Titan was formed by something else. Something else that produced the same effects on Earth and perhaps, Mars, Venus and Mercury? And other planets/moons?

Is it an Electric Universe?

Titan: Treasures of Earth's oily twin

f worlds have shadow twins elsewhere in the Universe, then Earth's would appear to lie just a block or two down the cosmic road, in orbit around Saturn.

"We have on Titan many of the geological features that we find on Earth," enthuses Rosaly Lopes.

"We find volcanism, we find tectonics, we find erosion and deposition, and wind activity forming dunes.

"It's very similar to the Earth."

But there is a crucial difference: Titan is so cold that most of the water is solid.

The rivers flowing across these plains are formed of a hydrocarbon soup with methane as its main ingredient.

The true nature of this once mysterious world is now finally emerging, courtesy largely of the Cassini-Huygens mission, a joint US-European venture, which deposited a landing craft on Titan, and continues to send back data and pictures of Saturn, its rings and its 60-odd moons.

Dr Lopes, from Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California, is one of the scientists reviewing the Titan findings at the European Geosciences Union (EGU) meeting in Vienna, Europe's largest annual gathering of scientists studying the Earth, its climate and its cosmic neighbourhood.

Four years after its arrival in the Saturnian system, Cassini is now showing researchers just how similar Titan is to our own planet.

Lake district

Last year, the craft's radar identified large areas close to the moon's north pole that are apparently lakes filled with the same methane-rich liquid. A few have subsequently turned up near the south pole, too.

"What you have is very much like the hydrological cycle on Earth," explains Sushil Atreya from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

"We have methane lakes in the high latitude regions, and the lower part of the atmosphere is sub-saturated, so there's about 40% relative humidity [of methane].

"And from time to time, it will rain methane onto the surface, which then collects into lakes; and there are also equatorial storms in the tropical regions."

So alike do the lakes appear to those on Earth that the cosmological "nomenclature police", the International Astronomical Union (IAU), have decreed that they can be named after those on our planet.

Among others, Titan now features a Lake Abeya, a Lake Mackay and a Lake Ontario, named because their shapes resemble their terrestrial equivalents in Ethiopia, Australia and Canada.

Long trails

Perhaps the most spectacular example of Titan's mimicry of our terrestrial home lies in the river valleys, which are disturbingly Earth-like - long snaking structures with tributaries arranged like veins on a leaf.

Look at the images really hard, and you can almost imagine zooming in to find some Titanian vegetation growing along the banks, and a train of methane-guzzling animals heading down to drink.

"There are a lot of valley systems, and a few are very huge, in the order of 1,000km long," notes Ralf Jaumann from the German Aerospace Center (DLR).

"We tried to figure out what these systems are doing with erosion on the surface, and it's comparable with what we know on Earth; these rivers are doing erosion and sediment transport just as we know it from rivers like the Rhine, Elbe and probably the Mississippi. But the liquid in these rivers is not water, but methane."

Ask why methane plays the role here that water plays on Earth, and the answer is disturbingly simple: it is chance.

On Earth, water is warm enough that water is mobile, but not so warm that it evaporates into space, as would happen on Mercury. Titan is so cold - averaging about minus 180C - that water is largely frozen.

Here, it is methane that is able to flow, to evaporate, freeze, thaw and condense, without trailing away into the void.

Water bed

So if methane has usurped the role that water plays on Earth, what part is there on Titan for Earth's most important substance?

For the most part, water here is solid, behaving in some ways as rock does on Earth; a surface to be eroded, a landscape to be sculpted. But in places it emerges violently in volcanoes.

A new analysis of the moon's rotation using Cassini's radar data indicates that large quantities of liquid water may lie under the icy surface.

"By matching up surface features that we saw on successive flybys, we were able to plot their positions relative to where we would have expected them to be if Titan was rotating the way it had always been expected to," explains Ralph Lorenz from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, US.

"In fact, on top of the expected rotation there is a little bit of a wobble back and forth that is driven by the atmosphere spinning up and spinning down with the seasons.

"Now this actually happens on Earth; the length of our day changes by about a millisecond over the course of a year. But on Titan the change is considerably more because the atmosphere is denser than ours, and Titan is a smaller body.

"The displacement of surface features that we observe is such as to require the ice crust of Titan to be comparatively thin, perhaps 100 or 200km thick, and decoupled from the core with an ocean of liquid water."

Mission life

The atmosphere of Titan has also turned out to be reminiscent of Earth's, possessing layers that mimic the troposphere, stratosphere and ionosphere above our heads.

In the higher levels, the interaction of solar radiation, nitrogen, and methane and other simple organic compounds leads to the formation of complex organic molecules such as benzene that later come down to the surface.

There may be 1,000 times more liquid hydrocarbons in Titan's lakes than in all the oil wells on Earth. Its dunes may hold hundreds of times the content of Earth's coal reserves.

It makes an enticing prospect for the would-be life-hunter in space.

"This combination of liquid water in the interior plus complex organic molecules composes two big ingredients for life - certainly life as we know it - and that makes Titan a very attractive body for future exploration," says Ralph Lorenz.

But Cassini is a busy craft. Its trajectory means it spends most of its time away from Titan, snapping strip-shaped radar images as it swings by the moon approximately once every month.

The first next step that scientists had been looking for was a two-year extension to Cassini's mission schedule, taking it past the original end date of July this year. As scientists were discussing the findings in Austria, Nasa officials back in Washington granted their wish.

In those two years, further flybys of Titan will mean that about 44% of the moon's surface gets mapped, as compared to 28% currently.

A further extension mission is also feasible, provided that Cassini continues to enjoy a healthy old age.

Beyond that, something dedicated to Titan is envisaged; or perhaps a "double-dip" mission taking in Titan and another of Saturn's enticing moons, Enceladus. Balloons and further landers may be deployed to sample Titan's extravagant hydrocarbon riches.

Let us hope that the craft does not navigate by vision alone. If it does, it is as likely to alight in the lake-strewn landscape of Finland or the valley of the Mississippi as on the plains of this strange and fascinating world.
Titan: Treasures of Earth's oily twin | news.bbc.co.uk (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7350100.stm)
: Re: Titans weather - methane storm clouds and terrain similar to Earth/Mars/Venus
: Mo February 11, 2010, 14:11:37
Actually I have previously noted that adding water to Venus's atmosphere would dissolve the CO2 bringing it to the surface of Venus where it would deposit out as carbonates. Then the remaining atmosphere of Venus would be greatly dimished, and it's composition would approach that of Earth, especially if the water started things growing, thus producing oxygen. Also the water would cool the planet, therefore to get another Earth just add water !
: planet earth starter kit - new planet just add water to create earths atmosphere
: electrobleme February 11, 2010, 19:19:50
i dont know about the physics (will have to have a look) but could this be how earths atmosphere was created, it was like titan/venus or similar as a new planet, then water was added and it became the earth we know?

perhaps from mars or as the bible/religous tales about water being seperated in the heavens and concentrated on earth?

could just water be removed from a planet/atmosphere? what would then happen to that planet/atmosphere? would it just be the reverse or would the process also have to affect many other things?

if titan does have a lot of water locked up in it, if an EU event happened to it or its component place in the electrical universe circuit changed could it then turn into a new earth?
: Titans dunes
: electrobleme December 09, 2014, 07:05:26
Planets, moons and asteroids (which are just active comets) have similar geology features because similar plasma discharge events create similar features - with local variations depending on the event.

Titan has dunes, similar to other planets. Comet 67p was also seen to have dunes, the same as other asteroids.

Are the sand dunes actually mobile 'sand' dunes (of whatever type of sand they might be) or are they fixed in place, created by an Electric Universe event? Dunes on Titan need firm winds to move, experiments at ASU show (asu.edu) (https://asunews.asu.edu/20141208-titan-winds)