Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Studenterkollokvium - Mads Gillings Jørgensen: A Mission to Titan: Searching for life on Saturn’s largest moon

05.05.2021 | Sunniva Busk Vang

Dato man 10 maj
Tid 15:15 16:00
Sted Fys. Aud. / Zoom
Titan passing in front of Saturn, image taken by the Cassini spacecraft.

Titan passing in front of Saturn, image taken by the Cassini spacecraft.

Vejleder: Kai Finster

Understanding and searching for life is an unfathomably complex size to grasp. One of the future missions that might help us expand our understanding of the environments that could lead to life, is NASA Dragonfly. It is planned to launch in 2027, with a destination set for Titan, the largest moon of Saturn.

In my colloquium I set out to find out why Titan is so interesting, and why many think it can help us answer some of the most fundamental questions on life. One might naively think with Titan being a moon, that it is not an obvious choice of destination in the search for life. But since we first saw the moon up close with the Pioneer and Voyager missions in the early 1980s, an interesting picture of this exotic world is being drawn.

Titan has a dense atmosphere, mainly consisting of nitrogen and methane, shrouded in an orange haze of organic compounds. Its surface has lakes and rivers with liquid methane, mountains, dunes and maybe even cryovolcanoes. Beneath the surface lurks a dark ocean of water, spanning the entire moon.

I will take a closer look at this exotic world, what we know about it, and what we hope to find with the Dragonfly mission. So join me, on a mission to Titan!

Studenterkollokvium, Institut for Fysik og Astronomi, Offentligheden / Pressen, Studerende