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International Edition Winners 2009: China (First Year Undergraduate)

International Edition Winners 2009: China (First Year Undergraduate)


Tian-Lin Wang
Titan
Titan
Tian-Lin Wang

First year of graduate study for master degree;Fudan Universityl

Shanghai, China



" Titan, may be another earth?

Saturn’s magnetosphere and atmosphere are significant subjects in Saturn research. Moons of Saturn, such as Titan, Tethys, are also interesting problems in discussion. The science instruments on Cassini have provided abundant information and several research programs have been carried out so far. Considering the present development of Saturn research, in my opinion, scientists should give priority to Titan, the largest moon of Saturn.

Since Saturn is unsuitable for landing, Titan, whose landscape and surface are similar with Earth, is much more useful for observation, landing, and base construction. To develop further research on Saturn, rings and moons, it is a significant step to set a base. Of course, Titan is the most suitable place, not only for the environment but also the resources. Cassini, carrying several remote sensing instruments, should give priority to the analysis of the geographic information of Titan. Optical remote sensing can provide accurate and detailed images of the terrain. Synthetic aperture radar, the substantial technology in microwave remote sensing, offers more information for deep analysis, such as height, brightness temperature, elements distribution, etc. Titan will play an important role in Saturn exploration.

With water ice and rocky material in a nitrogen atmosphere, Titan is analogous to the ancient Earth. It is meaningful to research the formation and origin of life on Titan.
Biologists are interested in the formation of protein from the inorganic materials. Hence complicated biological experiments can be carried out in the extreme environment on Titan. Analysis of the atmosphere and chemical elements would provide additional evidence and information. These may help solve the puzzles in life formation and development in remote geologic time on Earth.

Last but not least, research on Titan may also bring new scientific discoveries of Saturn system, solar system, and even the universe. For instance, rings of Saturn are formed of water ice and amorphous carbon, similar with the elements in Titan. Maybe there is a latent relationship between the rings, moons, and Saturn. It is possible that the rings originate from the impacts of meteorites or comets. To research the constitution of Titan may lead to new discovery of the origin and evolution of universe.

In summary, due to the special location and environment, Titan should be the key in Saturn exploration. Scientists should pay attention to not only the observation and analysis by remote sensing technology, but also subjects in other scientific realms, such as biology, chemistry, cosmology, etc. Maybe it would be one giant leap for mankind to land on Titan, a milestone in humans’ road towards universe.
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