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Questions tagged [titan]

Questions relating to the exploration of Titan, a moon of Saturn.

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37 votes
2 answers
6k views

Can a spaceship land on an icy body using retropropulsion? wouldn't the ice melt?

Can a spaceship, say Musk's BFR, actually land on the ice surface of Titan, or Europa, or Enceladus? It seems to me that the hot exhaust gases would make the surface melt where the rocket is trying to ...
thomasjestin's user avatar
37 votes
2 answers
5k views

How do I dress for a hike on a hot summer day on Titan?

Titan has an atmosphere with a surface pressure of around 150 kPa. It has an average surface temperature of around 94 K, around -183°C. On a nice, sunny, calm, summer day near the equator, it may ...
gerrit's user avatar
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31 votes
2 answers
4k views

Huygens Lander: Why The Short Battery Life?

I was reading into the Cassini–Huygens mission and was surprised to learn that the Huygens probe had a battery life of only 3 hours. Wikipedia doesn't seem to mention why this was the case. What ...
BMF's user avatar
  • 743
23 votes
3 answers
3k views

How does Titan have hydrogen in its atmosphere?

Titan's atmosphere contains few tenths of a percent of hydrogen. This seems odd to me, as Earth with a 4x greater escape velocity cannot retain hydrogen or even helium in its atmosphere. Titan is 3x ...
blademan9999's user avatar
23 votes
3 answers
20k views

Maximum survivable atmospheric pressure

Given a similar mix of gases to those in our Earth's atmosphere, what is the upper limit of survivable atmospheric pressure for a human? Could a human survive higher pressures with a gas mix unlike ...
Ezra Bailey's user avatar
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23 votes
3 answers
5k views

Why does Titan have an atmosphere?

Why does Titan have an atmosphere given its relatively small mass (comparable to our moon)? Why is it not lost to space or is Titan's atmosphere constantly being replenished?
johnM's user avatar
  • 351
20 votes
3 answers
4k views

Why are we interested in visiting the giant planets' icy moons?

I have noticed lately that future missions by NASA and ESA are targeted towards the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. They mention that they might be a possibility of life; the icy moons they are focusing ...
John's user avatar
  • 1,377
20 votes
3 answers
4k views

Why was Titan the first celestial body beyond Mars to be landed on?

If my memories are accurate, then there's only one celestial body beyond Mars, on which any man-made device was landed. Pictures made there are, in fact, quite popular among space fans. But why Titan?...
Zoltán Schmidt's user avatar
19 votes
3 answers
7k views

How much sunlight gets to the surface of Titan? What would astronauts see?

Saturn being at 10 A.U. means sunlight on Titan's cloud tops is about 1/100 that on Earth's. That's 4000 times the illumination of Earth's moon. Titan's atmosphere is described as opaque smog. If ...
Bob Stein's user avatar
  • 892
16 votes
4 answers
3k views

Are there plans for another mission to Titan?

I've always liked the idea of exploring the moon Titan, most likely because of the atmosphere, pressure, and the fact that it has stable bodies of liquids at the surface. Although it's very cold, ...
Chris Loonam's user avatar
  • 1,105
12 votes
1 answer
2k views

Why are Titan's lakes "black" in radar images rather than transparent?

Searching after reading Titan rover questions (1, 2, 3) lead me to Space.com's Titan Has More Oil Than Earth which says in part: "Titan is just covered in carbon-bearing material — it's a giant ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
12 votes
1 answer
585 views

Could SpaceX's Starship's landing and restart process work on Titan?

Gravity on Saturn's moon Titan is much weaker and the atmosphere is far denser than either Earth's or Mars', which Starship seems to have been designed for. Could an unmanned Starship do an Earth-...
HannesH's user avatar
  • 223
11 votes
3 answers
2k views

Could a Nuclear-Thermal turbine keep a winged craft aloft on Titan at 5000m ASL?

It's what it sounds like: Given the output of the NASA nuclear reactor (the one they're going to use for the Artemis program), and the use of an electric-motor-driven turbine system, how feasible is a ...
AnarchoEngineer's user avatar
10 votes
2 answers
794 views

Titan rover survival challenges

The Huygens probe didn't last long. What are the challenges of operating a rover on the surface of Titan for at least a few months and what technologies would be used to overcome these?
Mutual's user avatar
  • 101
9 votes
2 answers
1k views

What is the pop-up circular disk with spiral pattern in this NASA animation of the Dragonfly helicopter for Titan? Antenna? Kind, band, target?

At 00:36 in the June 2019 NASA video Dragonfly: NASA's New Mission to Explore Saturn's Moon Titan the animation shows it landing then deploying a circular disk with ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
9 votes
1 answer
386 views

Can Dragonfly make it to one of Titan's Lakes?

Dragonfly is a drone set to land on Titan in the mid 2030s. As I've read, Saturn - and thus, Titan - won't be in the right orbital position at the time to allow for direct contact with the drone if it ...
jos's user avatar
  • 1,073
9 votes
1 answer
877 views

Titan - Is the source of so much Methane being overlooked?

Is the source of so much Methane on Titan being overlooked? Tons of very intelligent and knowledgeable people already looked at it, so the answer in undoubtedly "no", so I guess my question is more ...
Paulo Augusto's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
334 views

How do they know that the Dragonfly helicopter won't get quickly coated in tholin muck? Any desliming technology for camera lenses or propellors?

From Air and Space's Dragonfly Is the First Aircraft Built for the Outer Solar System; NASA returns to Saturn’s largest moon with a rover that can fly. which I just found in this heavily-sourced ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
8 votes
1 answer
2k views

How could a hot lander enter Titan's atmosphere without setting its hydrocarbons ablaze?

Whenever a lander enters an atmosphere, it generates a lot of friction and that heats up the heat shield. On Earth we have seen videos of spacecraft with red-hot shields. On Saturn's moon Titan, ...
Gabriel Fair's user avatar
  • 1,331
8 votes
2 answers
575 views

How (the heck) do they know some lakes on Titan are 100 meters deep?

JPL News item NASA's Cassini Reveals Surprises with Titan's Lakes NASA's Solar System Dynamics New item Cassini Reveals Surprises with Titan's Lakes point out that some lakes on Titan have been ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
8 votes
1 answer
727 views

Delta-v obtained from Titan by the Cassini spacecraft; just how much of a "gas tank" was it?

In the video Cassini at Titan: A World Unveiled after about 01:56 Linda Spilker, Cassini Project Scientist, Jet Propulsion Laboratory says: Not only was Titan ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
8 votes
1 answer
590 views

How quickly might a Titan rover or drone get covered in oil and dirt? Will it need windshield-wipers?

These questions and their answers address some potential aspects of a rover on Saturn's moon Titan. Titan rover survival challenges What are the technical challenges in building a Titan rover that ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
8 votes
2 answers
1k views

Comparison of Titan to Europa

Why does Titan have an atmosphere denser than that of the Earth? And why does Europa not have even a fraction of Titans atmosphere given that it is not that small as compared to Titan?
Artemis2100's user avatar
8 votes
0 answers
126 views

How do people know how big the rocks are in the photos of Titan's surface?

How do people know how big the rocks are in the photos of Titan's surface?
space-enthusiast's user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
414 views

How can they be so sure that Dragonfly will "freeze to death" as opposed to simply (and eventually) running out of RTG power? (238Pu decay)

tl;dr: "...will probably freeze to death...before it runs out of power..." If power keeps it from freezing to death and it hasn't run out of power, why would it freeze to death? Space.com's ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
7 votes
2 answers
325 views

What are the technical challenges in building a Titan rover that didn't need heating?

In the discussion of this question it is assumed that we would need to heat the rover so that (most of) it's components were operating at temperatures much hotter than ambient (about 90K). Current ...
Steve Linton's user avatar
  • 19.6k
6 votes
3 answers
354 views

Could a helicopter escape Titan?

Titan has 50% denser atmosphere than Earth and a fraction of the gravity. Could a helicopter-like probe, similar to the Dragonfly or Ingenuity, generate enough lift and velocity to escape Titan? Or ...
VIBrunazo's user avatar
  • 495
6 votes
1 answer
247 views

How will Dragonfly (mission to Titan) keep from flipping over?

The animation in the announcement article shows landing on a perfectly smooth surface. That's not what the photo from Huygens shows - a lot of rocks and pebbles. And as anyone who played with drones/...
SF.'s user avatar
  • 55.1k
6 votes
1 answer
2k views

What would a "water" landing on Titan be like? How viscous is the liquid?

The abstract to the recent paper Never-EVER Land - A Titan Flyer Concept is shown below. I've asked about the need for the aircraft to remain in flight continuously and land only at the end of it's ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
6 votes
1 answer
574 views

What type of information can be gathered from a plot of brightness against wavelength?

While reading this paper about the possibilities JWST will provide to study Titan, I have come across a graph that plots brightness (not sure what units it is in) against wavelength in micron. Here it ...
Don_S's user avatar
  • 379
6 votes
1 answer
158 views

Would potential astronauts on Titan be in danger of being blown away?

Titan (the largest moon of Saturn) has a thicker and denser atmosphere than the Earth and a surface gravity of less than 1/7 that of the Earth. So potential visitors would be very light and what would ...
user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
156 views

Piggybacking to Enceladus

The latest NASA New Frontiers selection did not select any finalist proposals to Enceladus, which is one of the most promising targets for life in the solar system. It did however select Dragonfly, ...
TeslaK20's user avatar
  • 693
5 votes
2 answers
1k views

Why Never-EVER Land?

In this answer @Hobbes points out that data from the Huygens lander is still generating a high flux of new publications in 2018. One of them in the search results linked there is: Never-EVER Land - A ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
5 votes
3 answers
373 views

Colonisation of Titan

Titan has an abundance of hydrocarbons. Earthbound animals live on carbohydrates that are metabolised by elements like Oxygen that is found on Earth. Is there a possibility of different metabolism ...
Calcutta's user avatar
  • 291
5 votes
1 answer
328 views

Any proposed missions to explore the black liquid on Titan? Technical challenges?

I was very interested to know what the black lake on Titan would look like. Are there any plans or proposals for a future mission to land on and/or in one of the lakes of black liquid on Titan, or ...
Gstestso's user avatar
  • 817
5 votes
1 answer
203 views

Is data from Huygens still being analyzed in 2018?

The Huygens probe landed on Saturn's moon Titan about 13 years ago and provided unique "first-hand" data about Titan. I was unable to find how many papers have been published based on this data, but ...
Don_S's user avatar
  • 379
5 votes
1 answer
275 views

What is the evidence that the dunes of Titan are made of "water chips"?

The Southern California Public Radio news item What Cassini saw on Titan: 'Dunes of the Arabian desert' but made of water chips, not sand explains: "Little chips of water ice come off (the ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
5 votes
1 answer
141 views

Where is the Selk crater on Titan with respect to Saturn?

The Dragonfly mission to Titan will land at the Selk crater. Titan is tidally locked in synchronous rotation with Saturn and I'm trying to find out if Dragonfly will be on the Saturn-facing side of ...
Dave Gremlin's user avatar
  • 2,971
5 votes
1 answer
478 views

How would humans with appropriate equipment travel the surface of Saturn's moon Titan on foot?

Taking into account the physical characteristics of Titan (e.g. surface gravity, atmospheric pressure), what would be the most efficient method of motion for an astronaut to travel the surface of ...
Oak's user avatar
  • 51
5 votes
1 answer
132 views

Titan mountains = downwelling in it's ocean?

Titan, unlike earth has a liquid (mostly) water ocean beneath it's icy crust. (I think) this prevents plate tectonics because it isn't viscous enough to drag the crust with it. The heating of said ...
Kevin Kostlan's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
220 views

What is the process to produce a chemical composition spectrum of a celestial body?

I have come across this spectrum, which depicts the chemical composition of Titan's atmosphere: Taken from here. I would like to know how do scientists generate such spectra, starting with capturing ...
Don_S's user avatar
  • 379
4 votes
3 answers
1k views

Challenges to building a human habitat on Titan (Saturn's Moon)?

I have been studying Titan for a while, reading documents from Cassini and Huygens (probes). On Titan there is an atmosphere, layer of clouds, seas of hydrocarbons (fuel and plastic for many centuries)...
Valentino Zaffrani's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
198 views

Can we observe the Titan's surface from its orbit?

Titan's atmosphere is dense (1,5x earth) and described as a opaque smog. Is it possible, despite that, to see something? Or it's the same problem than with Venus surface? I know there are radar & ...
Bartolomo's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
2k views

What is the delta-v required to reach Titan (Saturn's moon)

How much speed do I need to put something to orbit on Titan? I know it is a simple question but look among those maps that are there but they are not clear to me.
Valentino Zaffrani's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
234 views

Build an engine that burns tholins

My idea is to send an hypothetical lander/rover to Titan, and recover from this some samples of rocks... To create a very efficient engine, I suppose to carry only liquid oxygen, and burn the ...
Stefano Balzarotti's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
404 views

Would astronauts need a heat shield to land on Titan from orbital speeds?

At orbital speeds around the Earth, things tend to burn up on striking the atmosphere, since they're going so fast. To get an astronaut (for example) home safely from those speeds, they need to have ...
Joe's user avatar
  • 3,950
4 votes
1 answer
135 views

Was there any downside of the approach trajectory of the Huygen's probe?

I found this image on the Wikipedia page for the Huygens spacecraft: Source Titan orbits saturn at ~5.57 km/s. The probe seemed to reach ~6.5 km/s before hitting Titan. The probe's velocity vector ...
Magic Octopus Urn's user avatar
4 votes
0 answers
120 views

Just how locked is Titan? Does it exhibit libration due to eccentricity? Have residual oscillations not yet damped out been detected or ruled out?

Under Where is the Selk crater on Titan with respect to Saturn? there is @BrendanLuke15's comment which provides a helpful hint: Tidally locked moons have their 0° longitude defined as the 'sub-...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
4 votes
0 answers
155 views

How low would a full revolution around Titan and Triton be possible?

A lowest circular orbit to remain stable around the Earth is possible at an altitude of about 95 mi (155 km) while the lowest perigee for a stable elliptical orbit around the Earth would be around 55 ...
LoveForChrist's user avatar
4 votes
0 answers
66 views

Hydrocarbons of Titan: Potential Applications

Imagine in the future that some space agency or corporation has deployed a manned mission to Saturn's moon Titan with the intent of collecting samples of its hydrocarbons. This is to be accomplished ...
Jem's user avatar
  • 161