Question Sheet: Sounds of Titan


Before reading:

  1. Why do you think it’s worth collecting data from a mysterious, alien world such as Saturn’s moon Titan? 
  2. What sorts of sounds might you hear in space? on the surface of another planet or moon? What could cause such sounds?

During reading:

  1. What did the area around the Huygens probe landing site look like? 
  2. Why is Bruce Betts of The Planetary Society excited about hearing sounds from Titan? 
  3. What might be learned from sounds recorded by the microphone on the Huygens


  4. What are the advantages of being able to collect sound from a wider area than scientists were able to do on this trip to Titan? 
  5. Summarize how scientists captured the sounds of Titan.

After reading:

  1. Compare and contrast the advantages of capturing sound versus having a better camera to get a clearer picture. 
  2. If you were to collect a dozen sounds to represent Earth, which sounds would you record? Why? 
  3. Team up with a friend and have each of you record five different sounds. Then switch tapes and have the other person try to identify the sounds. When you make the recordings, document what you hear, the approximate distance to the sound source, and any additional information you think might be useful. 
  4. Bruce Betts says that hearing the sound of Titan will inspire people to learn about the moon and get excited about space exploration. Do you agree with this idea? What are some other ways to get people excited about Titan and space exploration?


  1. Who was Christiaan Huygens? When and where did he live? How did his name

    become associated with Saturn? See


    (University of St. Andrews, Scotland). 
  2. If you were to select some recorded music for the Huygens probe to leave behind on Titan, which songs or compositions would you choose? Why?


  1. Suppose you collected a dozen sounds to represent Earth. Write a one-page story about someone on another planet who receives the recording. Imagine how this creature might interpret the sounds. 
  2. Write the lyrics for a song about Titan. Then listen to samples of the sounds of Titan at (Planetary Society). How could you include some of these sounds in your song?


The planets Earth, Jupiter, and Saturn revolve around the Sun approximately once every 1, 12, and 30 years, respectively. How often will Jupiter and Saturn appear close to each other in the night sky as seen from Earth?