I have heard that Titan has early Earth like atmosphere and has various hydrocarbons and nitrogen gas, where hydrocarbons are in liquid state and undergo same seasonal patterns as earth. With these much similarities with our planet and presence of hydrocarbons surely indicate that there can be some forms of life there? Then why aren't we sending probes to it and studying it. I don't think we have the resources, I recently heard that a rocket passed pluto and sent its photographs.


closed as off-topic by Kyle Kanos, HDE 226868, Bill N, John Rennie, tpg2114 Sep 27 '15 at 14:59

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    $\begingroup$ Such a big universe, so little time. $\endgroup$ – Olin Lathrop Sep 27 '15 at 13:00
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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting this question as off-topic because it is about reasons why we aren't going to space and not physics. Perhaps Space Exploration would be better suited. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Sep 27 '15 at 13:03
  • $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because we have investigated Titan directly with a landing probe. OP has not done proper research before asking this question. $\endgroup$ – Bill N Sep 27 '15 at 14:39

We actually have studied Titan, first with flybys by Pioneer and the Voyagers, and then by the Cassini-Huygens mission.

The Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn (a joint NASA-ESA-ASI project), launched in 1997 and still operational today1, studies Saturn and its moons, notably, Titan. The Huygens lander went down to the surface of Titan in 2005, where it sent back much of the data that makes up our current store of knowledge about Titan.

Why aren't we sending more probes to Titan? I can think of a couple reasons off the top of my head:

  • It's far away. Cassini-Huygens took seven years to get to Saturn.
  • It's expensive. Sure, this is the case with any mission, but sending a landing craft increases costs even more.
  • It's not the best choice. Europa, for example, may have liquid water, which would seem to top liquid methane any day.
  • NASA has other priorities. Getting humans to Mars - or even back to the Moon - is a more exciting endeavor, at least in the public eye.

1 The Cassini probe is still active and undergoing an extended mission. It continues to do flybys of Titan.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the answer, but I think one of the real objective of any space agency should be finding life? I mean if it succeeds in finding life then it would be more exciting in public eye, won't it? And will it be more expensive as compared to sending humans to mars? And why not Europa then? $\endgroup$ – prakhar londhe Sep 27 '15 at 14:29
  • $\begingroup$ @prakharlondhe Mars and Europa are closer targets, and the chances of finding life there that is closer to life on Earth are much higher than for Titan. Finding life is absolutely one of NASA's top priorities; they simply have better chances of succeeding there by going somewhere else. Missions to the Moon and Mars also have the advantages that they can be used as stepping stones to get humans to other planets. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Sep 27 '15 at 14:34

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