Titan is a moon of Saturn, most recently explored by the Cassini/Huygens probes. Titan is of huge interest to scientists, as the conditions in its atmosphere and on its surface bears a striking similarity to those of early Earth. It is thought that there is a realistic possibility that forms of primitive life could develop – or may already have developed – on the surface or in the oceans of Titan. As a result, there are plans to send further probes to Titan in order to further explore the conditions on its surface and in its oceans.
The theme of the book is how Titan works 'as a planet', with an emphasis on illustrating the features and processes of Titan – where the conditions and materials can be exotic – with familiar analogues from the Earth or other planets. The book will include numerous images from the field, the air and satellites to show comparable features on Earth or other planets.
The final chapter, discusses Titan in practical terms as an environment for humans in the future, bringing the place 'to life' (somewhat in a science fiction style, but grounded in fact). Images of geographical and geological features on Earth will be used to illustrate the parallels with Titan.
Author: Dr. Ralph Lorenz is a planetary scientist on the Principal Professional Staff of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, MD, USA. He was a member of the Cassini Radar team, and helped to develop the Huygens Surface Science Package. He has played a major role in the definition of a range of US and European Titan mission concepts, from airships and hot-air balloons, through airplanes, landers and even a submarine. Thomson–Reuters Sciencewatch in 2011 named Ralph Lorenz as one of the world's top planetary scientists by impact. He is currently working on a design study adopted by NASA for a quadcopter probe named 'Dragonfly', designed to explore Titan.