Evaluating the energy balance of Saturn's moon Titan

Jan 02, 2012

To understand the weather and climate on Earth as well as on other planets and their moons, scientists need to know the global energy balance, the balance between energy coming in from solar radiation and thermal energy radiated back out of the planet.

The energy balance can provide interesting information about a planet. For instance, Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune emit more energy than they absorb, implying these planets have an internal heat source. Earth, on the other hand, is in near equilibrium, with energy coming in approximately equaling energy going out, though a small energy imbalance can lead to global climate change.

Saturn's is the only moon in the solar system with a thick atmosphere, and scientists have been interested in exploring ways in which Titan is similar to Earth.

To learn more about Titan, Li et al. calculated its energy balance. The absorbed energy has been measured by various telescopes and spacecraft; the emitted energy was recently measured by instruments onboard NASA's .

The authors compared total absorbed solar power with total emitted thermal power and find that the global energy budget of Titan is in equilibrium within the measurement error.

Explore further: Elon Musk gets fresh challenge with space contract

More information: "The global energy balance of Titan" Geophysical Research Letters, doi: 10.1029/2011GL050053, 2011

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cassini delivers holiday treats from Saturn

Dec 22, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- No team of reindeer, but radio signals flying clear across the solar system from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft have delivered a holiday package of glorious images. The pictures, from Cassini’s ...

Recommended for you

Video: MAVEN set to slide into orbit around Mars

4 hours ago

A NASA mission to Mars led by the University of Colorado Boulder is set to slide into orbit around the red planet this week after a 10-month, 442-million mile chase through the inner solar system. 

Dawn operating normally after safe mode triggered

4 hours ago

(Phys.org) —The Dawn spacecraft has resumed normal ion thrusting after the thrusting unexpectedly stopped and the spacecraft entered safe mode on September 11. That anomaly occurred shortly before a planned ...

Repaired Opportunity rover readies for 'Marathon Valley'

4 hours ago

With a newly cleared memory, it's time for Opportunity to resume the next stage of its long, long Martian drive. The next major goal for the long-lived rover is to go to Marathon Valley, a spot that (in images ...

Image: Rainbow aurora captured from space station

7 hours ago

Auroras occur when particle radiation from the Sun hits Earth's upper atmosphere, making it glow in a greenish blue light. ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst has one of our planet's best views of this phenomenon, ...

Experts: Mystery fireball was Russian satellite

10 hours ago

People from New Mexico to Montana saw the bright object break apart as it moved slowly northward across the night sky. Witnesses described it as three "rocks" with glowing red and orange streaks.

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Golden_Age_Begins
not rated yet Jan 02, 2012
Does titan just continue to become more interesting? Or am I deluded
Anda
not rated yet Jan 03, 2012
It really does...