Titan Has a Huge Toxic Cloud Swirling Over its South Pole

By Jamie Condliffe on at

If you're thinking of heading off on a space holiday, can we recommend that you don't visit Titan's south pole. Because not only is it cold and stormy—but new research also reveals that it's toxic, too.

The international Cassini mission has discovered a huge swirl of cloud above the south pole of Saturn's largest moon. The satellite's atmosphere has cooled dramatically and in the process formed a vortex that contains frozen particles of the toxic compound hydrogen cyanide.

At 300 kilometres above the moon's surface, the cloud is higher than scientists expected, which means that Titan is proportionally colder than they thought, too. In fact, the vortex appears to be an artefact of changing seasons on the moon, much like on our planet. [ESA]