PDA

View Full Version : Lightning on Titan? Is That Possible?



Mr. Milton Banana
2004-Jun-05, 03:22 PM
From here: http://ciclops.lpl.arizona.edu/index.php


Above the methane clouds and rain lies two hundred kilometers worth of globe-enveloping red smog, making the Titan nights starless and the days eerie dark, where high noon is as dim as deep Earth twilight. Over eons, smog particles have drifted downwards, growing as they fell, to coat the surface in a blanket of organic matter. On high, steep slopes, methane rains have washed away this sludge, revealing the bright bedrock of ice. Could Xanadu, the brightest feature on Titan, be a high, methane-washed, mountain range of ice?

Occasional bolts of lightning momentarily brighten the gloomy landscape, and wind-blown waves lap the shores of hydrocarbon lakes and seas dotting the scene.

This is a rich and complex environment, where oddly familiar terrain is carved by odd and unfamiliar substances ... a fascinating, virgin world whose only rival may be the Earth itself, with sights still unseen by human eyes.



Can such a thing be possible? At such low temperatures, can anything remotely resembling a thunderstorm form and create lightning?

:-k

Russ
2004-Jun-05, 05:59 PM
If it happens, it's possible. All that is really required is for clouds of...whatever...build up a differential voltage that exceeds the standoff voltage to another cloud or the ground, then...whammo! Lightening, Blitz, etc.

Mr. Milton Banana
2004-Jun-05, 06:40 PM
If it happens, it's possible.

Well, um-that's usually how it works. :P :D

orangeSCT
2004-Jun-05, 06:45 PM
OK, possible a stupid follow up question......Warning....Stupidity sensitive individuals should look away now. #-o

For those of you still with me...
Wouldn't lightning ignite some of the volatile componants of Titan? That would be quite a sight, burning hydrocarbon seas. 8-[ I'm sure there is an explanation as to why this couldn't happen, but I don't know what it is.

Mr. Milton Banana
2004-Jun-05, 06:52 PM
OK, possible a stupid follow up question......Warning....Stupidity sensitive individuals should look away now. #-o

For those of you still with me...
Wouldn't lightning ignite some of the volatile componants of Titan? That would be quite a sight, burning hydrocarbon seas. 8-[ I'm sure there is an explanation as to why this couldn't happen, but I don't know what it is.

Well, it hasn't happened on Jupiter-which has the most violent thunderstorms known in the solar system so far. Hydrogen is a volatile chemical, and for whatever reason (which I know someone here will explain :D ). the hydrogen hasn't been ignited by lightning. Jupiter's lightning is 1,000 times more powerful than Earth's.

:o

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Jun-05, 07:20 PM
I'm not sure about the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere of either planet/moon, but if there isn't enough, there will be no combustion.

Russ
2004-Jun-05, 07:32 PM
OK, possible a stupid follow up question......Warning....Stupidity sensitive individuals should look away now. #-o

For those of you still with me...
Wouldn't lightning ignite some of the volatile componants of Titan? That would be quite a sight, burning hydrocarbon seas. 8-[ I'm sure there is an explanation as to why this couldn't happen, but I don't know what it is.
Well Excuuuuuuuuuuse meeeee. But this is not a stupid question. :x If you had not asked it, then it would have been a stupid question.

NO Oxygen. Combustion of hydrocarbons (eg methane), as we do it here on Earth, requires O2. There is very little if any free O2 in Titians atmosphere, therefore, no burning seas.

Jpax2003
2004-Jun-05, 07:55 PM
Nine Planets lists Titan (http://www.nineplanets.org/titan.html) as having an atmospheric without Oxygen or water vapor. In fact, they claim that the temp is too low to even sublimate the water ice on the surface. So while there probably is a large amount of oxygen on Titan, it is bound up in cryogenic solids (ices) and or rocks. However, there are trace amounts of oxygen bound with CO2 and other gaseous compounds in the atmosphere. Titan is cold at 94 K and the boiling point of oxygen is about 90 K so there should be some atmospheric oxygen. But I'm not exactly sure what effect the pressure would have at 1.5 Atmospheres (Haven't taken chemistry in over 10 years).

Anyways, if there isn't any loose oxygen around then even combustible compounds won't oxidize. Now, if Titan were to experience a global warming trend then the influx of heat combined with the potential release of free oxygen could turn the place into a burning hell. But, in that case let us think of Titan as "Hell, that hath frozen over."

Spacedog
2004-Jun-06, 04:13 AM
further ignorance inspired inquiries:

so, what happens to all that differential static charge
- mountains as capacitors?
- inductive tornadoes?
- resistance is futile?
:roll: