Shop Windows to the Universe

Learn about planets outside our solar system through Exoplanets and Alien Solar Systems by Tahir Yaqoob, Ph.D., a book in our online store book collection.
This is a drawing of the evolution of moons.
Image from: The New Solar System

How Titan Formed

In many respects Titan is similar to the other icy moons, but Titan is the only icy moon to have an atmosphere that can be compared to other planets'. It is natural to ask how is this possible since Titan sits in the same position relative to Saturn that Ganymede sits relative to Jupiter?

Just as the planets became more and more icy the further from the sun, moons seem to be more and more icy the further from the planet they orbit. The nebula was colder in the vicinity of Saturn, than in the vicinity of the Gailiean satellites. Evidently the nebula near Titan was cold enough to allow the molecule Nitrogen to condense to solid form.

Thus Titan is probably made of Nitrogen ice. Because Titan is near Saturn however, which is giving off heat, it is warm enough for the evaporation of Nitrogen to form an atmosphere.

The difference between Ganymede and Titan, is that Titan formed in a region cold enough for the condensation of Nitrogen. The difference between Titan and Triton, is that Titan is presently in a region that is warm enough for the slow evaporation of Nitrogen.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Our online store includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, ranging from seismology, rocks and minerals, oceanography, and Earth system science to astronomy!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Solar System Formation

Scientists believe that the solar system was for med when a cloud of gas and dust in space was disturbed, maybe by the supernova of a nearby star. Shock waves from the explosion compressed the cloud of...more

How Titan Formed

In many respects Titan is similar to the other icy moons, but Titan is the only icy moon to have an atmosphere that can be compared to other planets'. It is natural to ask how is this possible since Titan...more

The Environment of Titan, can there be Life?

Titan's atmosphere is a lot like the Earth's, except that it is very cold, from -330 degrees to -290 degrees! Like the Earth, there is a lot of Nitrogen and other complex molecules. There also may be an...more

Pandora

Pandora is a small moon of Saturn. It was discovered by S. Collins and others in 1980 from photos taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft. Pandora's name comes from Greek mythology. Pandora was the first woman,...more

Prometheus

Prometheus is a small moon of Saturn. It was discovered by S. Collins and others in 1980 from photos taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft. This moon's name comes from Greek mythology. Prometheus was a Titan...more

Medium-sized Moons of Saturn

Saturn has // Call the moon count function defined in the document head print_moon_count('saturn'); moons. Many of those are tiny chunks of rock or ice only a few kilometers (miles) across. One of Saturn's...more

Large and Medium-sized Moons of Saturn

Saturn has // Call the moon count function defined in the document head print_moon_count('saturn'); moons. Many of those are tiny chunks of rock or ice only a few kilometers (miles) across. One of Saturn's...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA