And he thought unpredictable spring temperatures were tedious: On Moon of Saturn Titan, the cold polar vortex periods can continue until the summer solstice.
This is according to the new research they are considering the polar vortex the only moon to sport a dense atmosphere like the earth. When The mission of NASA in Cassini Arrived in the Saturn system in 2004, scientists discovered a vast stretch of cold air under low pressure at the North Pole of the Moon. With the passage of earthly years and the gradual change of the Titan seasons, the spacecraft even saw the birth of the vortex at the other pole. Along with these observations, the new study tries to understand how these structures evolve, ripen and distract.
"Why is it so interesting that Titan is like a mini Earth with a really exotic and cold atmosphere that we can use to test climate models and stuff like that," Nick Teinby, a planetary scientist at the University of Bristol in the UK. author of the new study, says a statement, "This is the big picture of why we were worried, but I guess the real motivation is just that it's really great to try to understand these things."
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Cassini failed to spend a full year on Titan on the moon. Instead, the spacecraft has caught the last part of the northern polar vortex. But it continued until the end of the summer solstice. This will make the full phenomenon about 22 Earth years.
The spacecraft then saw the beginning of the formation of the same structure of the South Pole. Scientists were surprised to find that the early southern polar vortex was much colder than the late north polar vortex so Teenby and his team wanted to explore.
Please do not remind me of this 22-year-old nightmare when I complain about every winter. (gif credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Institute of Space Sciences, History: https://t.co/lCgD9HHSuK) pic.twitter.com/5LUYEeEnDwApril 22, 2019
Atmosphere of Titan is not a perfect clone of the Earth, although both are mostly nitrogen-filled, Titan is also sprinkled with methane, This is the compound that falls from the sky like rain on Titan, not water. And in the upper layers of the Titan atmosphere, where sunlight can reach this methane, it can cause reactions that produce even strange gas compounds.
What Teinby and his team have found out is that these exotic gases are more prevalent at the beginning of the winter and can add to the cold in the early days of the polar vortex. "The Earth cools in the winter due to the lack of sunlight over the poles, but you do not get this extra effect of extra gases, while on Titan you have these strange gases there that makes the process even more extreme than it would otherwise be," said Thinby .
Although scientists still have a lot of Cassini data to analyze by visiting the spacecraft in the Saturn system, it will take many years before each mission can observe a whole Titan season. NASA is considering choosing a mission on the Moon later this year, but even that spacecraft will not arrive until 2034.