October 28th, 2009

Planets of Peril

Help - Titan's cycle of days etc.

This is Weinbaum's version of Titan's days etc.:

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To say that I'm finding it fairly difficult to work with is an understatement - it's vitally important to the plot of the only story Weinbaum set there, but I can't figure out any easy way that it works.

Basically, in the real universe Titan is tidally locked to Saturn, and takes 16 days per orbit. Saturn rotates in 10.6 hours. Titan is eclipsed fairly often, and in multiple orbits when it happens, but the longest eclipse is only 6 hours.

Now, if I ignore the exact times given I can more or less explain this by a rotating Titan and some sort of climactic shift when Titan is nearest and furthest from the Sun. The eclipse thing can be handwaved away, I think. But I need a mechanism for the regular climate changes and I can't think of anything obvious.

Titan is described as having a dense atmosphere, mostly Xenon plus some oxygen, if that helps. I'm assuming that it gets some of its warmth from Saturn (which in the Weinbaum universe is moderately hot), some from internal radioactivity, and some from the sun.

Any suggestions? Or should I just begin "for unknown reasons..."?

later just realised that if I say Titan has an axial tilt I can explain most of this as seasons related to the heat received from Saturn and the sun, similar to the shifting of the trade winds on Earth. If I keep it vague is it vaguely plausible?