# Swimming on the surface of Titan

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I've read that the gravity of Titan at the surface is about 10% that of Earth. Plus I worked out that the atmospheric pressure at the surface would be like being in about 20ft of water here on earth. So explorers wouldnt need a pressure suit (altho they'd sure need an oxygen and temperature suit!)

So presumably human explorers would be able to 'swim' along through Titan's atmosphere at the surface? Have I got this right?

GIAN

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Lack of buoyancy due to the low density of the air would men that you would still drop to the ground.

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Lack of buoyancy due to the low density of the air would men that you would still drop to the ground.

On the contrary, as I said the literature Ive read says the atmosphere is denser than ours, it's like being in about 20 feet of water, but with 10% of our gravity. You'd float to the ground eventually, but couldn't you just 'swim' along?

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the Titanean atmosphere is denser than Earth's, with a surface pressure about 1.45 times that of Earth's

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmosphere_of_Titan

The greater pressure and lower temperature (and higher proportion of nitrogen) would lead to higher pressure. But I haven't seen a figure for that. It doesn't sound as if it would be dense enough to swim. (As it is a gas, you would be flying, rather than swimming, I guess.)

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On the contrary, as I said the literature Ive read says the atmosphere is denser than ours, it's like being in about 20 feet of water, but with 10% of our gravity. You'd float to the ground eventually, but couldn't you just 'swim' along?

I think you confuse pressure and density.

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On the contrary, as I said the literature Ive read says the atmosphere is denser than ours, it's like being in about 20 feet of water, but with 10% of our gravity. You'd float to the ground eventually, but couldn't you just 'swim' along?

Buoyancy works because of the balance between your weight and the weight of the volume of fluid you are displacing. If the weight of the fluid you displace is more than your weight, you float, if it is less, you sink. The fact that Titan's gravity is 10% of Earth's doesn't come into play because it effects both your weight and the weight of the fluid you displace equally. So instead we do a density comparison. At 1.5 atm, and 93.7K, Nitrogen has a density of ~5.6g/liter. Human's have a density of ~1000g/liter(being mostly water). So, as we can see, the weight of a human would be many times more than the atmosphere it displaces on Titan and he would not be buoyant enough to swim. The buoyancy of Titan's atmosphere would only be ~4 times greater than that of the surface buoyancy of the Earth's atmosphere.

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I think you confuse pressure and density.

Indeed. Pressure is not the same thing as density, the latter of which accounts for buoyancy. The pressure on the surface of Titan is about ~1.5 atm, which is pretty much what you'd experience in ~20 ft. of water like the OP says. However the density of Titan's atmosphere is ~4x the density of Earth's, meaning it's only ~0.5% the density of water. That means the average person would experience a buoyant force of ~0.75 lb., which is completely negligible. You'd sink like a rock, just like on Earth!

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You could fly on titan under your own muscle power much like that old guys who tried to use artificial wings on earth except it would work on titan.

You might be able to swim in the critical fluid CO2 at the surface of Venus, it's supposed to be dense enough to be comparable to liquid water..

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Buoyancy works because of the balance between your weight and the weight of the volume of fluid you are displacing. If the weight of the fluid you displace is more than your weight, you float, if it is less, you sink. The fact that Titan's gravity is 10% of Earth's doesn't come into play because it effects both your weight and the weight of the fluid you displace equally. So instead we do a density comparison. At 1.5 atm, and 93.7K, Nitrogen has a density of ~5.6g/liter. Human's have a density of ~1000g/liter(being mostly water). So, as we can see, the weight of a human would be many times more than the atmosphere it displaces on Titan and he would not be buoyant enough to swim. The buoyancy of Titan's atmosphere would only be ~4 times greater than that of the surface buoyancy of the Earth's atmosphere.

thanks. im a newbie at all this but wanna be a scientist one day

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How high are the winds on Titan?

Maybe explorers can wear a rocket suit with wings and fly over the surface. It should be easy to fly drones over the Titan surface because of the extra lift from the dense atmosphere.

You could fly on titan under your own muscle power much like that old guys who tried to use artificial wings on earth except it would work on titan.

Maybe explorers can wear webbed suits so they could run, jump, and glide over a significant distance, while flapping their arms.

Edited by Airbrush
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• 1 month later...

I think you confuse pressure and density.

good point

Indeed. Pressure is not the same thing as density, the latter of which accounts for buoyancy. The pressure on the surface of Titan is about ~1.5 atm, which is pretty much what you'd experience in ~20 ft. of water like the OP says. However the density of Titan's atmosphere is ~4x the density of Earth's, meaning it's only ~0.5% the density of water. That means the average person would experience a buoyant force of ~0.75 lb., which is completely negligible. You'd sink like a rock, just like on Earth!

i ain't got the mathematical knowledge to follow but im sure you're right. ye it's the difference between pressure and density. cheerz

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• 3 weeks later...

I'm no expert on this, but I'm inclined to agree with Moontanman about seemingly being able to fly around on Titan, using a pair of borrowed wings. I wonder if I read it in Starship Century - an article by Robert Zubrin, possibly?

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You could fly on titan under your own muscle power much like that old guys who tried to use artificial wings on earth except it would work on titan.

You might be able to swim in the critical fluid CO2 at the surface of Venus, it's supposed to be dense enough to be comparable to liquid water..

thanks xxx

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• 3 months later...

Actually, they would need a pressure suit. You can deliver oxygen to the lungs at sufficient pressure without a suit. The problem is that, on Titan, the air pressure is 45% greater than at Earth's surface. Our skin surface, like everything else about us, evolved in Earth's atmospheric pressure and is suited to that. If you increase the pressure 45%, you would get gas diffusion effects into the subcutaneous tissues and eventually the blood stream. Not a good thing when cyanide is one of the chemicals in the 'air'. Other chemicals like ethane permeate into the tissue - in this case at higher pressure - and exert changes to blood cell DNA. It is one of the causes of certain forms of leukemia.

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• 3 months later...

Actually, they would need a pressure suit. You can deliver oxygen to the lungs at sufficient pressure without a suit. The problem is that, on Titan, the air pressure is 45% greater than at Earth's surface. Our skin surface, like everything else about us, evolved in Earth's atmospheric pressure and is suited to that. If you increase the pressure 45%, you would get gas diffusion effects into the subcutaneous tissues and eventually the blood stream. Not a good thing when cyanide is one of the chemicals in the 'air'. Other chemicals like ethane permeate into the tissue - in this case at higher pressure - and exert changes to blood cell DNA. It is one of the causes of certain forms of leukemia.

well as I've said above I thought pressure at titan's surface was about the same as being in 20ft of water here on earth. But you'd sure need a temperature suit or presumably you'd freeze solid in seconds

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