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Cassini-Huygens Mission

Why is it in News?

Data and images as obtained from Cassini-Huygens Mission have revealed that lakes of Titan (moon of Saturn) were filled with liquid hydrocarbons.

About Cassini-Huygens Mission:

  • Cassini–Huygens was an unmanned spacecraft sent to the planet Saturn.
  • It was launched by NASA in collaboration with European Space Agency and Italian Space Agency in 1997.
  • Cassini was the fourth space probe to visit Saturn and the first to enter orbit.
  • This mission was launched to study Saturn, its ring system and more importantly its Moon Titan.
  • The mission has two components:-
  • a)Cassini Component: Cassini was an orbiter which was launched to study Saturn and its atmosphere.
  • b)Huygens Component: Huygens was a probe that landed on Saturn’s largest Moon Titan in 2005.
  • The mission ended in 2017 when Cassini spacecraft plunged into Saturn itself.

Key Findings from the Data & Images of Titan:

  • Lakes on earth are filled with liquid water but lakes of Titan are filled with liquid methane and ethane.
  • Scientists have analyzed that hydrocarbon reserves in lakes of Titan are almost 400 times more than the hydrocarbon reserves present on the Earth.

How come Methane & Ethane is present in Liquid form on Titan?

Methane and Ethane on Earth is present in gaseous form but on Titan it is present in liquid form as the climate is extremely cold on Titan.

Source: TH