Reminder: Saturn’s Moon Titan Really Looks Young | The Institute for Creation Research
Reminder: Saturn’s Moon Titan Really Looks Young
Scientists led by Valerio Poggiali of Cornell University’s Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science have used Cassini spacecraft data to learn a little more about Saturn’s largest moon Titan. They analyzed radar data obtained by the Cassini spacecraft to infer that Titan’s largest sea, the Kraken Mare, is at least 1,000 feet deep.1 However, unlike seas on Earth, this sea is mostly methane with some ethane. Titan’s extremely cold temperatures allow these chemicals to exist in a liquid state. This research is a reminder of two ways that Titan looks far younger than uniformitarian scientists expected.

Titan is the only moon in our solar system known to have a thick atmosphere. This atmosphere is almost all molecular nitrogen, but about five percent is methane. Ultraviolet light from the sun, as well as charged particles that have been accelerated to high speeds by Saturn’s magnetic field, split apart the nitrogen and methane molecules.2 Chemical reactions then combine the resulting components to produce ethane, as well as propane, acetylene, and benzene.3 What puzzles secular scientists is that the destruction of methane is occurring so quickly that no methane should be left if Titan is billions of years old:

Titan’s solar light—about 100 times less intense than on Earth—constantly converts methane in the atmosphere into ethane; over roughly 10 million-year periods, this process would completely deplete Titan’s surface stores, according to Poggiali.1

Since they believe Titan’s age must be more than a few tens of millions of years, uniformitarian scientists speculate that perhaps the methane in Titan’s atmosphere is being continuously replenished via eruptions of cryovolcanoes or slow seepage through the crust.4 But there is so far no observational evidence for these assumed replenishment processes.

Even if methane were somehow being replenished, the age of Titan’s atmosphere must still be less than one billion years, which is still quite young by secular reckoning. This upper limit is due to the fact that Titan’s atmospheric chemical processes should have produced much more surface methane if it had been going on for any longer than this.4

The problems for old-agers don’t end with methane. Ethane is problematic for them, too. Once produced in Titan’s atmosphere, ethane should fall to the surface. Planetary scientists were confident that it would remain chemically stable. Over long ages, they expected a global ethane ocean hundreds of meters deep to have been formed.3,5 In fact, scientists designed the Huygens probe, which landed on Titan’s surface in 2005, to be capable of landing on both liquid and solid surfaces.6

As it turns out, these liquid bodies cover just a small fraction of Titan’s surface, and most are located near the poles.7 And the lakes near the north pole are mainly methane, not ethane.8 Apparently, ethane production in Titan’s atmosphere has not been going on for very long!

Due to the greater sunlight at lower latitudes, methane lakes near the equator should have evaporated after just thousands of years.7 And secular scientists acknowledge that Titan’s surface shows “surprisingly little erosion.”9

Titan really does look young.3 The presence of atmospheric methane, the absence of large ethane seas, the presence of equatorial methane lakes, and little surface erosion are all indicators that Titan’s maximum possible age is much younger than uniformitarian scientists expected. And Titan’s true age could be just thousands of years. This should not surprise biblical creationists, since the Lord Jesus Christ made Titan, as well as all the other heavenly bodies, around 6,000 years ago.10,11

Stage image: An artistic rendering of the largest sea on Saturn's largest moon Titan.
Stage image credit: NASA/John Glenn Research Center. Copyright © 2020. Adapted for use in accordance with federal copyright (fair use doctrine) law. Usage by ICR does not imply endorsement of copyright holders.


References
1. Friedlander, B. Astronomers estimate Titan’s largest sea is 1,000-feet deep. Phys.org. Posted on phys.org January21, 2021, accessed January27, 2021.
2. Titan: In Depth. NASA Science: Solar System Exploration. Updated December 19, 2019.
3. Coppedge, D. F. 2006. Titan vs. Billions of Years. Acts & Facts. 35 (8).
4. NASA Research Estimates How Long Titan’s Chemical Factory Has Been in Business. NASA. Posted at nasa.gov April 24, 2012, accessed January 28, 2021.
5. Lara, L. M., R. D. Lorenz, R. Rodrigo. 1994. Liquids and solids on the surface of Titan: results of a new photochemical model. Planetary and Space Science. 42 (1): 5-14.
6. Haynes, K. Touchdown on Titan: How we landed a probe on another planet’s moon. Astronomy. Posted on astronomy.com October 19, 2018, accessed January 28, 2021.
7. Thomas, B. 2012. Young-Looking Methane Lakes on Saturn’s Moon. Creation Science Update. Posted on ICR.org July 16, 2012, accessed January 28, 2021.
8. Anderson, P. S. Scientists find new surprises about Titan’s lakes. EarthSky. Posted on earthsky.org April 23, 2019, accessed January 28, 2021.
9. Saturn’s Moon Titan May Have Seen Earth-Like Erosion. Space. Posted on space.com July 23, 2012, accessed January 28, 2021.
10. Genesis 1:14-19, Colossians 1:16-17.
11. Adding up the numbers in the biblical genealogies gives an age of the Earth and universe that are around 6,000 years old.

*Dr. Jake Hebert is Research Associate at the Institute for Creation Research and earned his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Texas at Dallas.
The Latest
NEWS
Support Creation Ministry in Texas and Beyond
ICR scientists and support staff recently completed a two-week science expedition through the Great Plains and western mountain states to conduct scientific...

NEWS
Great Unconformity Best Solved by Global Flood
The Great Unconformity is one of the most baffling mysteries in the geological sciences.1 It is marked by a massive surface of erosion that...

NEWS
ICR’s 2021 Science Expedition Update–Dinosaur Fossils
A team of 11 people from the Institute for Creation Research is currently traveling on a multistate science expedition to dig up fossils, conduct field...

NEWS
ICR’s 2021 Science Expedition Update
A team of 11 people from the Institute for Creation Research is currently traveling on a multistate science expedition to dig up fossils, conduct field...

NEWS
ICR’s 2021 Science Expedition Begins!
The Institute for Creation Research launched its 2021 multistate science expedition last week as a nine-member team left the ICR headquarters in Dallas,...

NEWS
Inside September 2021 Acts & Facts
Why does ICR focus on scientific research? How could paleontologists mistake a lizard fossil for a dinosaur? Is animal death before the Fall theologically...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Kids: Beauty by Design
Christy Hardy and Susan Windsor* You’re never too young to be a creation scientist! Kids, discover fun facts about God’s creation with...

ACTS & FACTS
Defend Your Faith with ICR
Have you ever heard a pastor question the historical nature of Genesis? “The days of creation weren’t really 24 hours long. The Bible is...

ACTS & FACTS
Animal Death Before the Fall?
Both the Old and New Testaments teach that death entered the world when Adam ate the forbidden fruit (e.g., Genesis 2:17 and Romans 5:12). Since fossils...

APOLOGETICS
Transmitting Truth in a Modern Pagan World
We share the world with modern pagans who worship the sun—or idolize an imagined primordial Big Bang—so we need to be truth witnesses unto...