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    Weather Predictions On Titan

    Tuesday, February 5, 2019 Last Updated 2020-02-23T19:16:02Z
    Like Earth, Titan has seasons. That’s because Titan has a dense atmosphere, the only moon in our solar system that can make that claim.

    Each season is about seven Earth years long, as Saturn takes 29 Earth years to orbit the Sun.The seasons last switched in 2009.

    In the northern hemisphere, winter turned to spring, while in the southern hemisphere, summer turned to fall.

    But in May 2012, during the fall season in the southern hemisphere, we received images from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft that showed a huge polar vortex (or swirling cloud) forming above Titan’s south pole.

    Scientists were puzzled because the vortex was around 300 kilometers (200 mi) above the surface of the moon, an area that should be too high and too warm for such a phenomenon to appear.

    By analyzing the spectral colors of sunlight that are reflected by Titan’s atmosphere, they were able to see the signature of frozen particles of hydrogen cyanide (HCN), a toxic compound.

    That meant that current models of Titan must be wrong. The upper atmosphere must be colder than predicted by about 100 degrees Celsius (or 200 °F) to form these particles.

    So as the seasons changed, the atmosphere in the southern hemisphere was cooling more rapidly than we had expected.

    As the circulation of the atmosphere draws large amounts of gas toward the south during the change in seasons, HCN concentrates there and cools the air around it.

    Also, the waning sunlight in the winter season would further cool the southern hemisphere.This suggests to the researchers that they will uncover even more mysteries when the summer solstice rolls around for Saturn in 2017.

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