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Titan Weather

August 17, 2006

Saturn’s moon Titan has rain made of methane.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
Weather on another world. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
On Saturn’s moon Titan, it rains methane. And now loads of new data from the Cassini mission are making it easier to understand and even forecast Titan’s weather. Planetary scientist Caitlin Griffith of Arizona University says on Titan, as on Earth, liquid cycles from the surface to the atmosphere and back again.

CAITLIN GRIFFITH (University of Arizona):
But on Titan, which is a lot cooler than Earth, it’s actually methane rather than water that can exist as a liquid, gas, or ice.

HIRSHON:
She says Titan gives scientists a scenario other than Earth of how weather can work. For example, recent research shows that most places on Titan experience a constant but nearly imperceptible methane drizzle. But large clouds can be found only at the south pole and in a small band that on Earth would cover New Zealand and a bit of South America.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.