New research on nine craters SaturnThe moon’s largest moon gives more insight into how weather affects a surface’s evolution – and what’s underneath.
The scientists used data from NASA‘S Cassini The mission goes into the craters on the Titan’s surface, revealing ever more detail about how the craters evolved and how weather drives changes in Saturn’s mammoth surface.
Like Earth, Titan has a thick atmosphere that acts as a protective shield from meteors; meanwhile, erosion and other geological processes effectively erase craters created by meteorites approaching the surface. The result is much less collisions and craters than other moons. Even so, due to the effects stirring up what’s underneath and exposing, Titan’s craters reveal a lot.
The new test shows that they can be divided into two categories: those in the sand dune fields around the equatorial Titan and those in the large plains at moderate temperatures (between the equatorial region and the poles). Their location and structure are interrelated: The craters between the sand dunes in the equator are composed entirely of organic matter, while the craters in the plains in the middle are composed of organic matter. combination of organic materials, water ice and a small amount of methane-like ice.
Since then, scientists have gone beyond connections and discovered that craters actually evolved differently, depending on their position on Titan.
Some of the new results reinforce what scientists know about craters – that a mixture of organic matter and ice was created by the heat of the impact, and that those surfaces were then washed away by methane rain. But while the researchers found that the cleaning took place in the medium plains, they found that it didn’t happen in the equatorial region; instead, those impact areas are quickly covered with a thin layer of sandy sediments.
That means Titan’s atmosphere and weather didn’t just shape the surface of Titan; They are also promoting a physical process that affects which materials remain in contact on the surface, the authors found.
“The most interesting part of our results is that we found evidence of Titan’s dynamic surface hidden in craters, which allows us to deduce,” said Anezina Solomonidou, a researcher. one of the most complete stories of Titan’s surface evolutionary scenario to date. at ESA (European Space Agency) and is the lead author of the new study. “Our analysis provides further evidence that Titan is still a dynamic world today.”
New work, recently published in the magazine Astronomy & Astrophysics, which used data from sight and infrared devices aboard the Cassini spacecraft, operated between 2004 and 2017 and conducted more than 120 Mercury-sized moon flybys.
“Location and latitude seem to reveal many of Titan’s secrets, showing us that the surface is actively connected with atmospheric processes and possibly with internal processes,” Solomonidou said.
Scientists are eager to learn more about Titan’s potential for astronomical biology, that is, to study the origin and evolution of life in the universe. Titan is an oceanic world, with a sea of water and ammonia under its crust. And as scientists search for ways for organic matter to move from the surface to the ocean below, the craters provide a unique window into the surface.
The new study also found that a collision site, called Selk Crater, was completely covered with organic matter and was unaffected by rain-cleaning the surfaces of other craters. Selk is in fact the target of NASA’s Dragonfly mission, scheduled to launch in 2027; The propeller lander will investigate important questions about astrophysics as it looks for biologically important chemistry similar to that of the early Earth before life appeared.
NASA met its first close-up with Titan about 40 years ago, on 12 November 1980, when the agency’s Voyager 1 spacecraft passed at a series of just 2,500 miles (4,000 km). The spaceship’s images show a thick, opaque atmosphere and the data reveal that the liquid may be present on the surface (it – in the form of liquid methane and ethane), and indicate that the chemical reactions Prebiology can occur on Titan.
See: “Chemical composition of craters on Titan I. Suggestions for extraneous treatment” by A. Solomonidou, C. Neish4, A. Coustenis, M. Malaska, A. Le Gall, RMC Lopes, A. Werynski, Y. Markonis, K. Lawrence, N. Altobelli, O. Witasse, A. Schoenfeld, C. Matsoukas, I. Baziotis and P. Drossart, Astronomy & Astrophysics.
DOI: 10.1051 / 0004-6361 / 202037866
Managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, Cassini is an orbiter that has observed Saturn for more than 13 years before running out of fuel supplies. The mission brought it into the planet’s atmosphere in September 2017, in part to protect the moons that have the potential to keep the conditions suitable for life.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a joint project of NASA, ESA and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. JPL designed, developed and assembled the Cassini orbiter.