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To The Moon Alice !
Titan Largest Moon of Saturn
Those words made famous by Jackie Gleason in the old sitcom of the Honeymooners. Perhaps he was thinking of our moon, the fairly old and mostly uninteresting mass that now orbits our planet.. Alice on the other hand may have preferred a flight to Titan the largest moon of Saturn. Titan is a much more active orb having a unique geological structure with many many unknowns. With more fly over's one can begin to see changes to Titan's unique lithology and landscapes in a very cold environment. Dr. Malaska’s experience and knowledge of Titan brings to our South Coast the secrets of this perhaps most interesting of our solar system's moons. Come and hear about a place where summer temperatures reach a blistering -290 Degrees F. and our earth gases are their oceans and lakes.
Dr. Michael J Malaska JPL & NASA
Exploring Titan’s Earthlike landscape
Abstract of Talk
Shrouded in an organic smog, Saturn's giant moon Titan is one of the most fascinating and mysterious bodies in the Solar System. Using data from the Cassini/Huygens spacecraft and probe, we are just beginning to discover the landscape beneath Titan's thick organic haze deck. Similar to Earth, Titan has mountains, lakes, rivers, canyonlands, plains, and dunes. But unlike Earth, Titan's fluids are liquid hydrocarbons at a frigid temperature of 95 Kelvin – only a little above the temperature of liquid nitrogen. These hydrocarbon fluids rain out and wash over a surface made of organic molecules and carve out the terrains we are just beginning to explore. This presentation will reveal new discoveries about Titan's diverse landscapes and compare them with similar landscapes that we find here on planet Earth.
The Presenter - Dr. Michael J. Malaska
Dr. Malaska’s career path to JPL is atypical. He obtained his undergraduate degree in chemistry from MIT, his PhD in chemistry from UC Berkeley, and performed postdoctoral research in neurochemistry at Mayo Clinic Jacksonville in Florida. He then had a 20 year career in the pharmaceutical industry leading medicinal chemistry programs discovering therapeutics for cancer, glaucoma, arthritis, parasitic diseases. The images brought down by the Cassini spacecraft reignited his passion in planetary science, and he went from being an interested amateur, to a part-time volunteer researcher, to finally fully pursuing a career in planetary science and astrobiology. At JPL, his research program combines laboratory simulation, spacecraft remote sensing, and field geology to explore planetary processes. His current research includes mapping Titan’s surface, examining evidence for karst processes in labyrinth terrains on Titan, and laboratory work measuring dissolution of Titan’s geological materials in cryogenic hydrocarbons. He is also an affiliate of the Cassini spacecraft RADAR Science Team. In addition, he has participated in a scientific expedition to a to a sulfide cave in southern Mexico inhabited by extremophile organisms that demonstrate how life could live on other worlds, such as Jupiter’s moon Europa.
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