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Paper: The Origin and Evolution of Saturn's Earth-like Moon, Titan
Volume: 513, Serendipities in the Solar System and Beyond
Page: 149
Authors: Atreya, S. K.
Abstract: How did Titan, not Ganymede or any other moon, get endowed with a massive atmosphere is the focus of this paper. The two main components of Titan's atmosphere are nitrogen and methane. Nitrogen is almost certainly secondary, as on Earth, whereas methane may be primordial or secondary, or their combination. Methane to Titan is like water to Earth, with the cycle of methane on Titan resembling the hydrological cycle on Earth. The long-term fate of nitrogen and methane on Titan is intertwined through the methane cycle. Though biology has little to do with Titan's methane, unlike Earth, life as we don't know it – "weird" life – cannot be entirely ruled out. Irrespective of any life, the chemistry between methane and nitrogen on Titan may be similar to that on prebiotic Earth, thus providing a serendipitous window into the beginnings of habitability of our own planet. Though monumental progress has been made in unraveling the unique nature of Titan in the solar system, numerous unsolved mysteries remain, so, it is highly desirable to continue the exploration of Titan in the future.
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