NASA Top Secret



The Face Behind The Veil. Titan is a little larger than Mercury--the smallest major planet inhabiting our Solar System. Indeed, Titan would have been classified as a major planet in its own right if it orbited our Sun instead of Saturn. The Huygens Probe images lifted the veil from the face of this distant moon-world, revealing a youthful surface that is both smooth and relatively free of impact craters. Huygens also found that this icy, hydrocarbon-saturated moon's climate includes those heavy rains of gasoline, as well as raging, roaring winds. Some of Titan's surface features were found to be hauntingly akin to certain surface features on Earth. Earth's mysterious large Moon is our nearest neighbor in space, dominating our clear night sky with its beguiling and bewitching cold golden glow. Earth's Moon is the only body beyond our planet that we have visited, leaving our footprints embedded in its alien dust. Despite its close proximity to our planet, our mysterious Moon has still managed to keep some ancient secrets from us very well. However, in October 2014, using data derived from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission, a team of planetary scientists announced that they may have solved a lunar mystery almost as old as our Moon itself. The precise chemical composition of these very alien lakes and seas remained unknown until 2014, when Cassini's radar instrument detected Ligeia Mare, now known to be Titan's second-largest hydrocarbon-filled lake. Ligeia Mare is brimming with an abundance of sloshing methane, and this enormous liquid reservoir is approximately the same size as two of Earth's Great Lakes combined--Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. Many planetary scientists think that the seabed of Ligeia Mare may be blanketed with a thick layer of sludge that is composed of organic-rich compounds.