Saturn and Titan imaged by Cassini on May 6, 2012. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI. Color composite by Jason Major)
Recent research using data acquired by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft reveals that Titan is moving away from Saturn at a much faster rate than previously thought. How fast? Read on…
“This result brings an important new piece of the puzzle for the highly-debated question of the age of the Saturn system and how its moons formed.”
— Valery Lainey, lead author
(News from NASA)
Just as our own Moon floats away from Earth a tiny bit more each year, other moons are doing the same with their host planets. As a moon orbits, its gravity pulls on the planet, causing a temporary bulge in the planet as it passes.
Over time, the energy created by the bulging and subsiding transfers from the planet to the moon, nudging it farther and farther out. Our Moon drifts 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) from Earth each year.
Scientists thought they knew the rate at which the giant moon Titan is moving away from Saturn, but they recently made a surprising discovery: Using data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, they found Titan drifting a hundred times faster than previously understood — ...