Astronomers think they can get new insights about the climate on Earth by performing a meteorological study of Titan. Saturn’s largest moon will help them explain the energy imbalance on Earth that affects the weather.
Titan is the only celestial body in the Solar System that has liquid bodies such as rivers, lakes, and seas, on its surface besides Earth. The lakes are not filled with water but with methane and ethane. While these hydrocarbons exist in the gaseous state on Earth, they are found in the form of liquids due to the extremely cold conditions on the Saturnian moon.
Titan hosts bodies of liquid but the dense and cold atmosphere is very different from the blue planet. But, researchers think that studying the energy budget of Titan might explain the energy imbalance observed on Earth. The energy budget is the amount of solar energy absorbed by a celestial body and the amount of thermal energy emitted by it.
Researchers used data collected during the Cassini mission between 2004 and 2017 to study the seasonal variations in energy budget on Titan. They observed that the amount of energy absorbed and emitted had dropped.
About a 6.8 percent decrease was observed in the thermal energy emitted by Titan, while the solar energy absorbed had decreased by about 18.6 percent. The researchers explained that emitted power varied depending differently in Northern and Sothern hemispheres of the moon. And the huge change in solar flux was dependent on the distance between Titan and the Sun.
The researchers will explore if the same mechanisms cause an energy imbalance on Earth. Co-author of the study published in the Geophysical Research Letters, Xun Jiang said, “Such a mechanism has not been examined for Earth’s energy imbalance.”