FRED AN­SWERS YOUR QUES­TIONS

Australian Geographic - - Geo buzz -

I’ve heard that Saturn’s moon Ti­tan is a model for the early Earth. What does this mean? Steve Wishart, Hawthorn, VIC

Ti­tan’s dis­tance from the Sun makes it a very cold world, with a tem­per­a­ture of about –180oC, and a sur­face made of rock-hard ice. But its sim­i­lar­i­ties to Earth in­clude a thick at­mos­phere, with clouds and rain. The rain­drops are not wa­ter, but liq­uid meth­ane and eth­ane, which pools into lakes and seas – the only ones known be­yond our own planet. This strange world could sus­tain micro­organ­isms based on hy­dro­car­bons rather than wa­ter, mak­ing it an ana­logue of the young Earth. Fu­ture space probes will tar­get the seas of Ti­tan in the search for life.

If you have a space ques­tion for Fred, email it to ed­i­to­rial@aus­geo.com.au

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