This picture shows one of the "seas" on Titan. This picture was made with radar data from the Cassini spacecraft. The colors in the picture have been added. Blue areas are liquid ethane/methane, while brown areas are "dry land". This sea is near Titan's North Pole. It is slightly larger (in area) than Lake Superior on Earth.
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy of NASA/JPL/USGS.
The Poles of Titan
Titan is Saturn's biggest moon. Titan is the only moon in the Solar System with a thick atmosphere. Titan's poles are interesting places. Scientists have discovered lakes at both of Titan's poles. The scientists have also spotted clouds near each of the poles.
Titan is very, very cold. The temperature is around -179° C (-290° F). At that temperature water ice is as hard as rock. There is lots of methane and ethane on Titan. On Earth, methane is a gas. Many people use methane, also called natural gas, as a fuel in their home furnaces. On Titan, the cold temperatures turn methane and ethane into liquids. Titan's lakes and seas are filled with liquid ethane and methane instead of water.
There are hundreds of lakes near Titan's North Pole. There are some that are so big that scientists are calling them seas. There also lakes near the South Pole, though not as many.
Where did the liquid in the lakes and seas come from? Astronomers have spotted clouds over both of Titan's poles. One cloud over the North Pole was really, really big - about half as large as the United States. Maybe methane or ethane rain or snow falls from those clouds to Titan's surface, filling the lakes.
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, as well as books
on science education!
You might also be interested in:
Methane is a kind of gas. There is a small amount of methane in the air you breathe. A methane molecule has carbon and hydrogen atoms in it. Methane is a greenhouse gas. That means it helps make Earth...more
A snowman, glass of water and steam might look very different but they are made of the same stuff! Just like any substance, water has three different forms, called states: solid, liquid and gas. The state...more
There's a lot of strange stuff going on at both the North and South Poles of Saturn. Two of Saturn's moons also have interesting polar regions. Let's take a look! The atmosphere and clouds are quite odd...more
Titan is like other icy moons. Scientists want to know "how come Titan is the only one that has a big atmosphere?" Titan formed the same way other planets did, as shown in this picture. Where Titan formed,...more
The air of Titan 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 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 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