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Return to Titan and Go Where No One Has Gone Before

Presentation #501.02 in the session “Prize Announcements and Winners Q&A”.

Published onOct 03, 2021
Return to Titan and Go Where No One Has Gone Before

After 13 years of close-up observations of the Cassini-Huygens mission from 2004 and 2017, Titan is still very much a mystery, if not more so. For example, the origin of Titan’s thick nitrogen-rich atmosphere is far from being understood. Its accretion process in connection to the whole Saturnian system has many possible pathways. Its geological activity and interior structure are as murky as ever. Its intriguing methane hydrological system and highly variable atmosphere are all waiting for in-depth exploration. Titan is a unique case in which the surface landscape (or seascape) could be very significantly determined by atmospheric photochemistry. The Dragonfly mission of NASA will probably go a long way in addressing some of these topics. Another exciting direction could come from astronomical observations of circumstellar and circumplanetary disks by ALMA and other advanced telescopes as well as the study of exoplanets and exo-moons. It is expected that the advances in detailed understanding of the atmospheric evolution and potential astrobiological implications of Titan-like planetary objects will trigger a new wave of spacecraft exploration of Titan with an array of novel space platforms and instruments to make inroad to a place and time that are totally unknown.

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