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Saturn is losing Titan: the satellite of the planet is leaving a hundred times faster

Saturn is losing Titan: the satellite of the planet is leaving a hundred times faster

The NASA experts made an amazing discovery: the Titan, the largest satellite of the Saturn, is moving away from the planet at a speed a hundred times faster than previously thought. As part of the Cassini-Huygens mission, astronomers were able to learn new evolutionary details of the development of the planet and its satellite. The Titan is a large satellite, in its area it exceeds the Mercury.

Its features are explored by the NASA experts with the participation of the Italian Space Agency. Just as the Moon of the Earth’s satellite every year gets a little further, the same thing happens with other satellites of different planets. That is due to gravitational capabilities. For example, every year the Moon moves away from the Earth by about 3.8 centimeters.

The scientists believed that they knew the speed the Titan moves away from the Saturn. But in fact, the information provided by the Cassini mission showed that the Titan is moving away much faster than previously thought, or rather, a hundred times. On average, the removal area for one earth year is 11 centimeters. That information can help astronomers resolve a long-standing scientific debate. It is based on evidence that the Saturn was formed 4.6 billion years ago, during the early Solar System.

But when the planet’s rings and its moon system, consisting of 80 satellites, formed, science does not know. The Titan is now at a distance of approximately 1.2 million kilometers. The satellite’s displacement rate suggests that the Titan was much closer to its planet and that means that the system expanded much faster than scientists previously thought.

Leading specialist Valery Lainey believes that new data on the displacement rate of the Titan confirms the hypothesis about the influence of planets on the orbits of their satellites. Over the past 50 years, the astronomers have used the same calculations to determine what size displacement is.

Now, that indicator can be used to determine the age of the moon. In theory, it was assumed that Saturn's satellites, such as Titan, moved slowly, since they are far from the planet and the strength of its gravitational field spreads weakly on them. But astrophysicist theorist Jim Fuller refuted that assumption. He stated that the outer moons move at the same speed as the inner moons. The state of the Titan has confirmed that hypothesis thanks to data collected by Cassini.

During ten flights lasting from 2006 to 2016, the ship sent radio waves to the Earth. And due to them, the NASA scientists learned how the frequency of the signal changed as a result of their interaction with the environment. Thus, they were able to assess the speed of movement of the Titan and its relationship with the Saturn.