Saturn’s Moon Titan drifting away faster than previously predicted: NASA research

Scientists at NASA and the Italian Space Agency, in a new research found that Saturn's giant moon Titan is moving away from planet Saturn but at a speed much faster than earlier predicted.

Saturn’s Moon Titan drifting away faster than previously predicted: NASA research
Saturn and its moon Titan, as seen by NASA's Cassini spacecraft. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

Scientists at NASA and the Italian Space Agency, in a new research found that Saturn's giant moon Titan is moving away from planet Saturn but at a speed much faster than earlier predicted.

While our Moon drifts 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) from Earth each year while Titan is drifting hundred times faster than previously understood — about 4 inches (11 centimeters) per year.

Over the course of 4.5 billion years, Saturn's largest moon has migrated to it's current orbit which is approximately 746,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) away from the planet. 

The research was done using data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. The new research has implications for the entire Saturn system as well as other planets and moons.

“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,” said Valery Lainey, lead author of the work published June 8 in a statement in Nature Astronomy. 

Lainey conducted the research as a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. 

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.