Astronomers: the Titan were more similar to Mars and not on Earth

© NASA / CICLOPSТак the artist imagined clouds on TitanAstronomers: the Titan were more similar to Mars and not on Earth© NASA / CICLOPS

The lack of visible traces of tectonic activity on Titan’s surface does not allow to consider this moon of Saturn is the closest analogue of the Earth, and brings it closer to Mars, where geological processes have faded into the distant past, say the planetary scientists in a paper published in the journal Science.

«It is surprising that in the Solar system there are just three in the world, where rivers were the main sculptors of the landscape or in the past, or even today. We have a unique opportunity to learn from the example of these rivers, how different the history of these worlds,» said Taylor Perron (Perron Taylor) from the Massachusetts Institute of technology (USA).

Titanium, as the scientists explain, in many ways very similar to Earth – it rains there is soil erosion, and flow in some geological processes in the subsoil caused by tidal forces and gravitational interaction with Saturn. On Titan, there are seasons, and its weather processes is almost as sophisticated as their counterparts on Earth.

The differences are in the «stuffing» of the subsurface and the atmosphere of Titan – a drop of rain are composed of methane, the surface covered with ice and snow from hydrocarbons, and the role of hot mantle plays molten rock, and alleged warm ocean, existing in the depths of the saturnine moon.

Perron and his colleagues claim that in fact Titan is an analog of the young Mars, not Earth, after examining the device it riverbeds of the rivers that feed large lakes and «seas» at the North pole of the moon of Saturn.

Rivers on Earth and their currents on the surface of a planet often changes not only due to abrupt changes in the climate, landslides and other «quick» changes to the landscape, but also under the action of slow geological processes – as a result of the formation of mountains the movement of tectonic plates and raising or lowering the height of the plains and other low-lying areas.

As a result, rivers often flow in the «wrong» direction, moving not maximally steep slope from top to bottom and randomly and sometimes even from the bottom up, «gnawing» their way through the mountains and steep slopes. Similar traces of tectonic activity do not occur on Mars, which means that the surface of the red planet remained virtually unchanged throughout the time when it existed of the river.

Following this idea, planetary scientists have tried to find out whether Titan is closer in this respect to the Earth or to Mars, analyzing the photo of the rivers received by the probe «Cassini» during his encounters with the moon of Saturn.

It turned out that Titan was more like Mars – all the rivers on its surface flowing downwards along the most optimal path, indicating the absence of tectonic processes in the bowels of Titan. This does not negate the fact that his bowels may be geologically active, but says that the Titan lacks tectonic plates and moving continents similar to those on the Earth.

«The Cassini mission ends in September of this year, and new photos of Titan, obtained his chambers, we will never see. Therefore, any opportunity to add our ideas about the appearance of this planet, in addition to observations using telescopes and studying the old Cassini will help us prepare for sending new probes to Titan,» concludes Perron.