Tito Garcia

Year: 2018-19

Tito Rigoberto Garcia Aguilar

School: Keiser Language Institute

Grade: 12

Coordinator: Raúl Lezama Hernández

City: Managua

Target: Titan

"Human beings have thought about extraterrestrial life since they have knowledge about astronomical objects. In the last decades, due to technological advances, humanity has considered the idea of visiting other planets,such as Mars, to make them habitable.

Nonetheless, it has been proven that not only planets but also moons could turn into habitable places for humanity. On March 25, 1655, the Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens discovered the existence of Titan, a Saturn´s moon. He did so with a telescope, first used in astronomy by Galileo. Roughly, 300 years later, the Cassini spacecraft arrived in Saturn orbit on July 1, 2004.

A few months later, it made the first flyby on Titan. Cassini also had the Huygens probe. This probe took many pictures of the moon giving quite important information about it. Therefore, according to many types of research and observations that were done by different organizations, Titan is the best candidate to visit again due to its Earth-like characteristics as well as being the moon that we have more information about.

First and foremost, Titan´s surface makes it pretty different from other moons. Besides Earth, the only place known to have liquid in form of lakes and seas on its surface is Titan. All these liquids, which etch river channels, are methane and ethane, and they can be found in an environment of -179 degrees Celsius. Owing to these conditions, somebody in Titan without an appropriate suit would immediately freeze.

Another relevant characteristic that makes Titan a singular moon is its atmosphere. It is made mainly of carbon and nitrogen, as well as Earth´s. This thick atmosphere allows Titan to have clouds. Hence, a methane cycle is produced similarly to the water cycle on Earth. Its density let us walk, and even fly, on its surface without a special suit due to the high levels it has. Gravity is also almost the same as Moon´s gravity.

Cassini´s evaluations showed underground liquid water (likely mixed with salts and ammonia) ocean on Titan´s surface. The Huygens probe only measured the distance of this ocean below this icy crust. However, a future probe included in a spacecraft could incorporate a dig system in order to reach, or get as close as possible, to the liquid beneath Titan´s cortex.

Given these points, the similarities between Earth and Titan, and the vast knowledge that we have, compared to other astronomical objects in the Solar System, makes this Saturn Moon, Titan, a quite good choice to explore again. It has pretty unique characteristics, such as being the only place as well as Earth to have liquid in the form of lakes on its surface. Water is the first vestige of life. On Earth, and everywhere else we could not live without water. Likewise, Titan is not only likely to have new ways of life, but it also could lodge life as we know it due to the water ocean that has beneath its surface. In conclusion, whichever way you see, Titan is the best option."

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