Titan's Mud Surface
Scientists have recently claimed that the Huygen's
probe likely hit and settled into Titan's 'mud' surface. I realize
methane, ethane and nitrogen have some rather unique properties but couldsomeone
enlighten me as to how any environment with a -180 Celsius surface
temperature could produce 'mud'? Has this or could this be
duplicated on earth or is this simply speculation?
I am going to make a guess at this. "Mud" is formed when soils mix with
a liquid. On Earth, we typically associate mud with soil mixed with
water. It would seem to me however, that with the temperature on Titan,
compounds which we normally associate as a gas, exist in a liquid form.
This liquid would then make "mud" with the soils of Titan.
Here the term "mud" does not mean a suspension of sand in water -- the
way we commonly use the term. Maybe an alternative would be "slush" which
means the suspension of some solid particles in a liquid in such a way to
form a deformable aggregate, without specifying what the solid particles
and the liquid may be chemically. It is a term describing consistency not
composition. The Huygen's probe measures this experimentally by "poking"
the surface with a mechanical probe and measuring how the surface responds
to the "poke". In principle it could vary from "rock hard", to "rubbery",
to "sludge", to "mud", to "high viscosity liquid", to "watery (i.e. low
viscosity liquid). This is not speculation. It is a fairly easy
determination of the physical properties of the surface of Titan at least
in the area where the probe landed.
we are all very interested and excited about the
scientists findings in Titan. The conditions there
are completely different from Earths .
At Earth Methane and Nitrogen are both gases at
normal temperatures occurring here.
Methane melting point is -182.48 degree C and
Nitrogen is -195.8 degree C at Earth at normal temperature and
There the conditions are completely different.
The fact is that in Titan Methane is liquid.
Also there are solids at the surface, hydrocarbons and
organic compounds and water, and others that are been
studied right now.
In Earth "mud" is soil mixed with water, kind of
suspension. In Titan what was called "mud" probably
is these solid particles at the surface mixed with
Right? But prepare yourself for a lot of surprises,
coming from Titan. Quite a long time ago, around the
beginning of eighties some scientists knew already
many facts about Titan "atmosphere" and surface.
But now the data are coming from there, it is
great isn't? We can "see" things actually.
Thanks for asking NEWTON.
(Dr. Mabel Rodrigues)
I believe I saw an interview of the scientist who made that statement. The
statement was based on the preliminary data obtained from an instrument
that was attached to the bottom of the probe. This instrument was
essentially a force-measuring device that would give data on the kind of
surface the probe landed on based on the kind of forces that were imparted
to the instrument on landing. As it turned out the force-profile detected
by the instrument was similar to the force-profile that scientists here on
Earth have detected when they drop the instrument onto mud or heavy sand.
On a first-principles basis, the freezing point of nitrogen is -210 deg-C,
that of methane is -182 deg-C, and that of ethane is -182 deg-C, so you
can imagine how this combination could give the consistency of mud.
Greg (Roberto Gregorius)
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Update: June 2012