Is Titan Wet or Dry?

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  01 Jul 1983:
Vol. 221, Issue 4605, pp. 53-55
DOI: 10.1126/science.221.4605.53


Titan's dense and cold nitrogen atmosphere contains a small amount of methane under conditions at least approaching those at which one or both constituents would condense. The possibility of methane and nitrogen rain clouds and global methane oceans has been discussed widely. From specific features of radio occultation and other Voyager results, however, it is concluded that nitrogen does not condense on Titan and that Titan has neither global methane oceans nor a global cloud of liquid methane droplets. Certain results indirectly support the conjecture that methane does not condense at any location. However, other considerations favor a methane ice haze high in the troposphere, and liquid and solid methane might exist on the surface and as low clouds at polar latitudes.