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John Zarnecki on Titan

Updated Wednesday, 30th March 2011

John Zarnecki talks about what he would do if he could fly to Titan, plus offers insight into the discovery of an ice volcano on Titan.

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John Zarnecki

Well, I do remember giving a lecture in front of the Open University’s Vice Chancellor and I think I asked for ten million quid from the OU to go to Titan, to go back to Titan with my own probe and scientific instruments.  What I would really love to do is to land in one of the methane lakes or seas and make measurements on the surface, to make measurements of the wave properties, of the depth, to do extra-terrestrial oceanography.  That would be fantastic. 

What would I like to leave there?  I think I’d leave a CrystalPalace football programme so I could then say that my beloved football team had a truly cosmic reach.

Well, the discovery of ice volcanoes on Titan just shows us what a diverse, intriguing place it is.  Despite being so far from the sun and therefore relatively cold, there is so much going on, you know, we’ve got lakes and seas, we’ve got hills, mountains, we’ve got weather, meteorology, we’ve got rain, we’ve got methane rivers almost certainly flowing, and now we’re finding these cryo-volcanoes, low temperature volcanoes where material is extruding from below the surface and spreading out across the icy surface.  So, this is really one of the most diverse places other than the earth in our entire solar system.


Take it further

Want to explore the world of astronomy? Find out about OU courses focusing on this area and get a taste with our free LearningSpace unit on telescopes and spectropgraphs.

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Titan in more depth

Professor Zarnecki lecture

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