Powerful telescopes show clouds on Saturn’s moon

(ORDO NEWS) — Titan is considered the only cosmic body in the solar system with an atmosphere that is larger than Earth‘s in mass, but similar in chemical composition to it.

Powerful telescopes show clouds on Saturns moon 2
Images courtesy of “James Webb”. On them you can see parts of the atmosphere, clouds and the surface of Titan

The atmosphere of Saturn’s moon is very dense. It is filled with a thick haze that obscures the visible light reflected from the surface.

It is not easy to study its features. But scientists coped with this task thanks to the supervision of the James Webb and Keck telescopes, writes Phys.org.

“We’ve been waiting for years to use James Webb’s infrared vision to study Titan’s atmosphere, including its spectacular weather and gas composition,” said Principal Investigator Conor Nixon.

According to him, the most interesting thing was to observe the methane clouds and storms, as well as the bright and dark spots that could be seen on the surface of Titan.

What scientists have learned

  • Clouds form in the middle of the northern hemisphere in late summer
  • The appearance of clouds is associated with the heating of the surface of the satellite
  • Clouds are not static: they move, change shape
Powerful telescopes show clouds on Saturns moon 3
Changing the shape of the clouds. Images from the James Webb (left) and Keck (right) telescopes

The collection of data on the atmosphere of Titan is not yet complete. Astronomers must obtain information from the NIRCam, NIRSpec and MIRI scientific instruments installed on the James Webb.

True, the process may be delayed until May-June 2023. We will wait for new discoveries related to the distant satellite of Saturn.

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