Titania is the largest moon of Uranus and hence named Titania after the name of the character of Queen of the Fairies in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Interesting Titania Facts
- Titania was discovered by German astronomer, William Herschel in 1787.
- It has been named after a character from William Shakespeare’s play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
- It has a radius of about 790 km.
- It is the largest moon of the planet Uranus.
- It is the second farthest from the planet among the five major moons.
- It is 436,000 km away from Uranus.
- It takes 8.7 days for Titania to revolve around Uranus and complete on rotation about its own axis.
- Titania is tidally locked to Uranus.
- It has a greyish appearance.
- One season on the moon lasts for 42 years on Earth.
- Its surface is brighter than most of Uranus’ moons.
- Its surface features include craters, canyons and scraps.
- The largest crater on Titania, Gertrude has a diameter of 326 km.
- A canyon on Titania, Messina Chasma, has a length of 1,500 km.
- So far, only water and carbon dioxide have been identified on Titania.
- It does not have its own magnetic field.
- It does not have a well-defined atmosphere.
- It has only been observed by one space craft, Voyager 2, in 1986.
Titania was discovered by the German astronomer, William Herschel on 11 January 1787 which is also the day of the discovery of Uranus’ second-largest moon, Oberon.
The name Titania comes from the play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare. It was the name of The Queen of Fairies.
Interestingly, all known moons of Uranus have been named after characters from plays by William Shakespeare and Alexander Pope.
Titania has a radius of approximately 790 km. It is the largest moon on the planet Uranus. Overall, it is the eighth largest moon in the solar system. It is the second farthest from the planet of the five large moons.
Much like most of the major moons of Uranus, Titania has a greyish appearance. Its crated surface is visible in the image that was taken by Voyager 2 nearly 200 years after its discovery.
Surface and Composition
Titania has an immediately bright surface as compared to other moons of Uranus. Its reflectivity decreases by 35% at the 0° angle to about 25% at 1°.
It appears to be greyish in color with a bit of red present. The leading and trailing hemispheres have an asymmetry. The leading hemisphere is redder than the trailing hemisphere. This may be caused by micrometeorites from the solar system over time.
The major surface features on Titania include canyons, craters, and scarps. This surface is less cratered than that of other moons of Uranus.
There are three main types of surface features on Titania. These are craters, canyons, and scraps. The surface is not as heavily cratered as that of other moons of Uranus. This suggests that the surface is relatively younger.
The largest known crater on Titania is called Gertrude which is 326 km in diameter. Some craters on Titania are surrounded by icy ejections called ejecta.
There is an unnamed basin that lies towards the west of Gertrude. It has a diameter of 330 km.
Another surface feature on the moon is scraps. These cause marked depressions on the crust.
One of the largest known canyons on Titania is called Messina Chasma runs for as much as 1,500 km. Grabens on Titania may have a width ranging from 20 to 50 km with a relief of 2 to 5 km.
The geology of the moon has been influenced by two phenomena which are the formation of impact craters and endogenic resurfacing.
Titania is the largest and the most massive moon of Uranus. It is the eighth-most massive moon in the entire solar system.
It has a density much higher than those of Saturnian moons. This shows that it has nearly equal proportions of water ice and non-ice material. It may be made up of carbonaceous material which includes heavy organic compounds.
So far, carbon dioxide is the only compound that has been identified on the moon, other than water. It is more prominent in the trailing hemisphere.
The carbon dioxide may be present due to internal carbon compounds under the influence of ultraviolet rays from some. However, the cause is still not clear.
Titan may have a differentiated internal structure with a rocky core and an icy mantle. The core may be about 520 km in radius while the mantle is estimated to have a thickness of about 50 km.
The moon Titania is not known to have any kind of magnetic field of its own.
Orbit and Rotation
Titania is 436,000 kilometers away from the planet Uranus. Titania is the second farthest from the planet of the five major moons of Uranus. The moon has very little inclination relative to the equator of the planet.
It takes 8.7 days for Titania to orbit around Uranus and rotate about its own axis. Titania is tidally locked to the planet. This means that it always has one face pointing towards Uranus.
The moons of Uranus orbit in its equatorial plane and are subject to seasonal changes or rather extreme seasonal cycles. One season on Titania lasts for almost 42 years.
Titania does not have a proper atmosphere. It is however possible that it has a thin, seasonal atmosphere of carbon dioxide like Callisto, one of Jupiter’s moons.
The presence of nitrogen or methane on Titania is quite unlikely because it does not have gravity strong enough to prevent them from escaping into space.
Titania had only been observed through telescopes before a few years ago. The only close-up images of Titania have been provided by NASA’s Voyager 2 in 1986. At that time, the distance between Titania and the space craft was 365,200 km.
Potential for Life
No evidence of life has ever been found on Titania. This is due to the extreme temperature and pressure conditions. If any life does exist on the moon, it would be very different from that on the Earth. The possibility of finding life forms elsewhere in the universe can never be ruled out.
People continue to be fascinated by the planets in the solar system as well as their moons. Titania has been mentioned in several elements of pop culture such as films, television shows, books, video games, etc, either individually, or collectively as a part of the Uranian moon system.
- 1787: Titania is discovered by William Herschel
- 1986: Voyager 2 provides detailed images of Titania