Even as Saturn’s Moon, Titan, is quite similar to earth, it is different in several ways. While just like the earth, it too has rivers, lakes and seas, the liquid in these bodies consists of hydrocarbons instead of water. Scientists have now gained access to this moon through the James Webb Space Telescope.
It is believed that this is the only moon in the solar system with a dense atmosphere. Scientists at NASA had been waiting for years to study Titan’s atmosphere through this telescope to find out about its weather patterns and other details.
During their study, scientists studied a number of images that were captured by the telescope’s (Near-Infrared Camera. After studying these images, they confirmed a bright spot in Titan’s northern hemisphere, which is a large cloud. Thereafter, they detected a second and other clouds. Detecting clouds helps in validating computer models of the climate of Titan.
Apart from this, scientists also wanted to find out whether these clouds were moving or changing shape. With this, they wanted to check the flow of air in the moon’s atmosphere. For this they also requested follow-up observations from Keck Observatory in Hawai’i. While they were concerned that clouds may disappear by the time they got follow-up observations. However, they found clouds with different shapes in the same areas.
They also collected Titan’s spectra with the help of the telescope’s Near-Infrared Spectrograph. This gave them access to many wavelengths which cannot be detected through other telescopes. Scientists will analyse this data to study the composition of Titan’s lowest atmosphere and also gather information related to the bright feature which was found at the moon’s south pole.
They also plan to plan the Dragonfly rotorcraft in Selk Crater region of Titan in 2034. A team of NASA were also able to study the radar images of the area through Cassini spacecraft. Importantly, the NIRSpec data will also help in studying the composition of Titan’s surface, which even Cassini was unable to.