Your first steps on a new world should be an auspicious occasion. With that in mind, I have just landed on Titan. I’ve opened the hatch of my spaceship. I’m descending the ladder. I’m taking my first step….
I should have expected this. Titan may be too cold for liquid water, but it’s the right temperature and pressure for liquid methane.
There’s enough liquid methane (and also liquid ethane) to form lakes and rivers. It rains liquid hydrocarbons, and the ground is saturated with this stuff. Add tholins to the mix, and you’ve really got yourself in a sticky situation.
When the Huygens probe landed on Titan in 2005, it found surface conditions that the Huygens team compared to crème brûlèe: a layer of soft, gooey material with a thin, hardened crust on top.
No one can say for sure if the Huygens landing site is truly representative of the entire surface of Titan, but still… I should have expected to get my space boots dirty.
And here’s another thing I should have expected. You see, Titan has an atmosphere (approximately 95% nitrogen, less than 5% methane). In fact, Titan’s atmosphere is slightly denser than the atmosphere on Earth, so sound waves travel pretty well. Which means that as I trudge across the Titanian landscape, I can actually hear my space boots squishing in the mud.
P.S.: One more thing I should’ve thought about sooner. I’m going to have to figure out a way to clean my spacesuit before getting back into my spaceship. All this hydrocarbon gunk is going to become a real fire hazard once I’m back in an oxygen-rich environment.