Titan (or Saturn VI) is the largest moon of Saturn. It is the only natural satellite known to have a dense atmosphere, and the only object other than Earth where clear evidence of stable bodies of surface liquid has been found.
Titan is the sixth ellipsoidal moon from Saturn. Frequently described as a planet-like moon, Titan’s diameter is 50% larger than Earth’s natural satellite, the Moon, and it is 80% more massive. It is the second-largest moon in the Solar System, after Jupiter’s moon Ganymede, and is larger by volume than the smallest planet, Mercury, although only 40% as massive. Discovered in 1655 by the Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens, Titan was the first known moon of Saturn, and the fifth known satellite of another planet.
Titan is primarily composed of water ice and rocky material. Much as with Venus before the Space Age, the dense opaque atmosphere prevented understanding of Titan’s surface until new information accumulated when the Cassini–Huygens mission arrived in 2004, including the discovery of liquid hydrocarbon lakes in Titan’s polar regions. The geologically young surface is generally smooth, with few impact craters, although mountains and several possible cryovolcanoes have been found.
The atmosphere of Titan is largely nitrogen; minor components lead to the formation of methane and ethane clouds and nitrogen-rich organic smog. The climate—including wind and rain—creates surface features similar to those of Earth, such as dunes, rivers, lakes, seas (probably of liquid methane and ethane), and deltas, and is dominated by seasonal weather patterns as on Earth. With its liquids (both surface and subsurface) and robust nitrogen atmosphere, Titan’s methane cycle is viewed as an analogy to Earth’s water cycle, although at a much lower temperature. On June 23, 2014, NASA announced strong evidence that nitrogen in the atmosphere of Titan came from materials in the Oort cloud, associated with comets, and not from the materials that formed Saturn earlier. On July 2, 2014, NASA reported the ocean inside Titan may be as salty as the Dead Sea. On September 3, 2014, NASA reported studies suggesting methane rainfall on Titan may interact with a layer of icy materials underground, called an “alkanofer,” to produce ethane and propane that may eventually feed into rivers and lakes.
Titan is always being studied for its possible use as a colony, with Saturn Station orbiting the moon. Saturn station is used as a massive hub of trading between various planets. It workers and scientists regularly go to Titan both for study and profit. Saturn Station has access to a Darkgate which controls traffic within the area.
- Some question if we should attempt to terraform Titan, with studies finding evidence of methane lifeforms.
- Saturn Station is known for its Black Market trading and competes with the Oord Cloud Black Market on many occasions.