Come, move to the moon: You can jump like a grasshopper. Come, move to Mars: You can bound like a bunny. Come, move to Titan: You can fly! I know which one I’d choose.
NASA’s Janelle Wellons is pumping up Saturn’s moon Titan as a possible site of human settlement should Earth become uninhabitable. Wellons is an instrument operations engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She participated in a Reddit Q&A on Wednesday with women who work at NASA.
A Reddit user asked, ‘Where would the most suitable place in the universe be to go if we couldn’t theoretically live on Earth anymore?’
Wellons suggests Titan, calling it a more interesting answer than the standard Mars or moon response.
Wellons used to work as an engineer on NASA’s Cassini mission, which is now over. The spacecraft spent years studying the ringed planet and its many satellites, including weird and fascinating Titan, Saturn’s largest moon.
NASA chief scientist Jim Green had previously floated Titan as a possible option for colonization.
‘Titan is the only place besides Earth known to have liquids in the form of lakes and seas on its surface,’ Wellons says. ‘These liquids are made of methane but, armed with the right kind of protective gear, one could theoretically be able to swim without harm!’
Titan isn’t just a potential swimming spot, it also has a draw for anybody who’s ever taken flight in a dream. Wellons points to the thick atmosphere and its ability to shield us from space radiation. ‘It is so dense that we could actually attach wings to our arms and fly on this moon,’ she says. Hell yeah.
So far, Wellons is doing a good job of selling us on Titan, but the moon isn’t exactly a body double for Maui. It’s chilly to the tune of -290 degrees Fahrenheit (-179 degrees Celsius).
NASA says you could walk around on Titan without a spacesuit, but you’d need an oxygen mask and protection from the cold.
So Titan has some downsides, but it’s worth tossing it into the speculation hopper as we contemplate colonizing the solar system some day.
I have to agree with Wellons when she says ‘it just seems like an awesome place to live.’