The first official map showcasing the geology of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, was finished and showed a moon that was full of lakes, plains, craters, dunes, and other terrains. The map also includes the calculated age of the terrains. According to reports, Planetary geologist, David Williams worked along with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Planetary geologist, Rosaly Lopes in creating the complete geological map of Titan.
It is known that Titan is the only other body than Earth to have a stable form of liquid on its surface but unlike water-based rains on earth, Titan witnesses rains of Methane and Ethane that are considered to be in a gaseous form on earth but have liquid properties due to Titan's frigid climate.
Rosary Lopes stated that Titan has a methane-based cycle that is in an active state and has given a structure to a complex landscape, making the landscape of Saturn's moon as one of the most diverse in our Solar System. She further compared Titan's and Earth's temperatures, gravity fields and stated that both the planetary bodies have a lot of similar characteristics and can be compared as results of the same geological processes. Lopes also said that Titan's map showed that the different landscapes on the moon have an equal balance in terms of latitude and some of the terrains cover more areas than the others.
The team headed by Lopes' used information from NASA's Cassini mission and completed more than 120 flybys of Titan. The team used information from Cassini's mission's radar imager to pierce through Titan's atmosphere made up of nitrogen and methane. The team also took references from the infrared instruments, which were successful in capturing some of the big geological features.
David Williams stated that the NASA's Cassini mission showcased that the Mercury sized Titan is a geologically active world, where methane and ethane have the same role of water on Earth as these hydrocarbons rained down on Titan's surface just like the water-based rains on earth and flowed in the forms of streams and lakes and evaporated into the atmosphere.
Lopes said that the study conducted by her team was an example of combined data sets and instruments. She said that her team did not have an overall coverage with the SAR (synthetic aperture radar) because of which they used information from other instruments and ways from the radar to compare the characteristics of different geological terrain units in order to understand their characteristics of terrains where did not have the SAR coverage.
(With inputs from agencies)