This post was originally published on Outer Places.
Titan, Saturn's largest Moon, has the potential to be an ideal location for human colonization and exploration within our Solar System, along with Mars (though Mars' prospects have gotten less rosy lately). Some even argue that, besides Earth, Titan is the only place suitable for human colonization in our celestial neighborhood. While it is unbelievably cold, distant, and strange, it is also home to large bodies of surface liquid, solid ground, a thick atmosphere, and more. And, to add to that list, scientists recently discovered calm hydrocarbon lakes that could make landing future probes a piece of cake.
The highest that waves reach on the lakes of Titan is about one centimeter. These alien lakes are more tranquil than we might be able to picture, sitting remarkably still. And so, if and when we are able to send probes to that Moon, scientists think that these lakes would make a good landing point. According to lead author Cyril Grima, a research associate at the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics (UTIG): "There's a lot of interest in one day sending probes to the lakes, and when that's done, you want to have a safe landing, and you don't want a lot of wind...Our study shows that because the waves aren't very high, the winds are likely low."
So what does this mean? It might not sound that exciting at first glance, but it is a huge step forward in our never-ending cosmic exploration. Especially with the recent news that Mars' soil could be toxic to any potential bacterial life, it is important to remember that the Red Planet isn't the only possible destination for future astronauts and probes. Titan could be the future location of a permanent human colony and the ability of a probe to successfully and smoothly land is crucial to missions going well. So, while we still have a long way to go (literally and more figuratively), this is one huge step in the right direction.
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Featured photo: NASA