First Steps on Titan

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….

Ag08 First Steps on Titan

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.

12 Responses to First Steps on Titan

  1. chemistken says:

    I bet that hydrocarbon mix is highly carcinogenic. Try not to get any of it on you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If I recall correctly, with its low gravity and thick atmosphere, it may be possible to wear manually flap-able wings and fly on Titan. Maybe that’s what you should have done rather than stepping into the goop 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Spacer Guy says:

    Well James you should have thought about installing a sonic shower aboard the rocket ship. Now what are you going to do? I think you’d better sound yellow alert….

    Liked by 1 person

  4. […] Earth-like planets are not necessarily all that Earth-like. For the last few weeks, I’ve been blogging from the surface of Titan, which is often described as one of the most Earth-like worlds in the Solar System. And let me tell […]

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  5. […] been exploring the surface of Titan for several weeks now. During my time here, I have not discovered alien life, but alien life sure has discovered me. […]

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  6. […] A Trip to Pluto: Maybe something in a similar vein to my recent trip to Titan. […]

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