In Greek mythology, the Titans were among the first gods and goddesses, children of Gaia (Earth) and Uranus (Sky), and ruled during the legendary Golden Age. The first generation had twelve Titans including Oceanus and Hyperion, Tethys and Rhea.

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The Mutilation of Uranus and Saturn                                    Rhea

Now, Titan is the name given to one of the moons of the planet Saturn:

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This month, a team of American and French astronomers (JD Hofgartner et al Nature Geoscience 7, 493-6) report on their analysis of radar images  from the Cassini spacecraft that began to pass Titan in 2004. IMG004938-br500  150px-Huygens_surface_color_sr  th

The pictures with highest resolution show that Titan has seas with waves, suspended minerals and bubbles, but the seas are very temporary. Some have been spotted by only one of the passes of the spacecraft – by the time it returns, the sea has vanished.

That’s because Titan’s seas are made of methane: not water. Like the Earth’s hydrological cycle, Titan’s methane cycle is driven by changes in the distribution of solar energy. And Titan is coming up for its northern summer solstice in 2017 when the changes are greatest.

NASA’s artist reconstructed the spacecraft Cassini orbiting Saturn:



Other recent work by G. Mitri (Icarus 236 p139 2014) shows there is water on Titan, beneath an almost 100km frozen shell, and heavy with dissolved salts.