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Titan (moon of Saturn) is unique in that it possesses a very thick atmosphere. However, Titan is certainly is not the largest of the moons - Ganymede being larger.

What is the current accepted theory as to why Titan has retained its thick atmosphere?

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1 Answer 1

It's not really known why only Titan has a thick atmosphere while moons like Ganymede don't.

One thought is that temperatures may have been too high (well above ~40K) in the Jovian subnebula of our solar system due to the greater gravitational potential energy release, mass, and proximity to the Sun, greatly reducing the $NH_{3}$-hydrate inventory accreted by both Callisto and Ganymede. The resulting $N_{2}$ atmospheres might have been too thin to survive the atmospheric erosion effects that Titan has withstood.

EDIT: some links:

http://perso.utinam.cnrs.fr/~mousis/papier3.pdf (though it's from 2002).

http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2012ttt..work...25N (this paper critiques the previous idea of a $CH_{4}$ supported atmosphere)

I would also think the NASA/JPL Cassini pages would have any up-to-date info in regards to Titan.

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Very nice answer - do you have any links to add to your answer? –  user8 Dec 9 '13 at 22:59
Thanks! I've went ahead and edited in some links. –  Lame-Ov2.0 Dec 9 '13 at 23:37

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