December 07, 2005
Titan Update

Scientific American is carrying this update on the data Titan probe Huygens sent back:

... Titan is also clearly an exotic world swaddled in a dense layer of smog and frozen in a primitive, hydrogen-rich state. The methane and nitrogen that constitute its atmosphere form various aerosols in the sunlight--giving the moon its orange aspect--that then drift down through the atmosphere as alien snow leaving a soft covering as much as one kilometer thick on the surface, which is littered with water ice instead of rocks.

I recall reading an SF book years ago that mentioned methane snow such as this has such a low melting point that simply compressing it with, say, a boot would be enough to cause it to evaporate in a flash. No idea if that's true, but (as long as I got to come home at the end) I think it'd be neat to find out!

Posted by scott at December 07, 2005 12:45 PM

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