2020-01-23, 14:00: Dr. C. Nixon (NASA)
Dr. Conor Nixon
Titan: the moon with an atmosphere
Abstract : Titan is the largest moon of Saturn, and second largest moon in the solar system after Jupiter’s Ganymede. Titan however is unique, being the only moon with a substantial atmosphere. The origin and maintenance of this atmosphere remains mysterious, especially since solar wind erosion and other chemical processes should deplete much of the reactive gas, methane, within ~20 million years – an eye-blink in cosmic time. Without methane to support a greenhouse effect, the atmosphere should cool, condense and collapse. The Cassini-Huygens space mission at Saturn (2004-2017) provided substantial new information about Titan during 127 flybys of the giant satellite. In this talk I will review what we have learned about Titan from the Cassini-Huygens mission and recent ground-based astronomy, and what questions are still left unanswered for future missions to address.