Titan’s oddly thick atmosphere may come from cooked organic compounds

HAZY HAVEN Titan may get its hazy atmosphere (shown in natural color in this image from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft) from organic molecules warmed by the decay of radioactive elements in the moon’s core.

Titan may have a home-baked atmosphere. Saturn’s largest moon gets some of its thick atmosphere by cooking organic molecules in a warm core, a new study suggests. The decay of radioactive elements may warm Titan’s core from within, splitting nitrogen and carbon off from complex organic molecules. Once free, those elements can