Is Titan the Most Earth-Like Body in the Solar System?
By Hanna Eyobed, age 15
The thought of living on another planet may seem like something out of a science fiction book. But what if we could sustainably live on another planet that contains similar qualities and could host life, like Earth? What if I told you a small moon revolving around Saturn could do just that?
Titan is the only place in our solar system that has characteristics most like Earth’s. Water in the atmosphere shelters Earth from galactic cosmic rays (GCRs). These rays are energetic particles that, if it weren’t for Earth’s atmosphere, would make the Earth uninhabitable. GCRs can cause cancer because of their radiation. Exposing mice to GCR radiation results in brain damage and a loss of simple activity within the mice, according to a study performed by Vipan K. Prihar and colleagues in Science Advances. The methane and ethane in the atmosphere of Titan is similar to the water in the Earth’s atmosphere, and could potentially allow Titan to maintain human life.
Although Titan has similar qualities to Earth, it’s still special in its own way. Creating shelter on Titan would be simple, because Titan’s surface is filled with resources that can create plastic, which would become one of humans’ main resources. Titan is extremely cold, with an annual temperature of -180 C (-291 F), but thankfully, due to its thick atmosphere, humans walking outside on titan would only need warm clothing and respirators. Titan’s atmosphere lacks oxygen; however it contains ice water below its surface that can be used as a source of oxygen.
An exciting activity you could do on Titan is fly! All you would need is wings similar to those worn by some skydivers on Earth. On Earth, humans weigh too much for us to sustain flight under our own power. But on Titan, due to its weak gravity, we would weigh a much less. So human muscles would be strong enough to keep us in the air.
There is no way to get to Titan yet. Moving the entire population of planet Earth would be a huge feat, considering that Titan is further away than the Moon. It’s difficult to calculate the chances of survival. Scientists say that the trip will last about seven years, which is a large amount of time for humans to be in space. GCR dosage is still an important factor to consider, because of the damage it can cause humans if they were to make the commute to Titan. On a more uplifting note, if scientists and future generations continue to invest in the possibility of humans living on Titan, there is a good chance that with the improvement of technology, humans will eventually get there.
[Sources: Scientific American; NASA; Associated Press]
About the Author:
Hannah Eyobed is a freshman at Monona Grove High School and has been working at Simpson Street Free Press for almost two years. She is interested in writing articles about history and social justice. In her free time, Hannah enjoys painting and listening to music.