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Cassini peers through Titan’s hazy atmosphere

NASA has released this composite image of Saturn’s moon Titan, an infrared view acquired during Cassini’s flyby on 13 November.

The near-infrared wavelengths in this image allow Cassini’s vision to penetrate the haze and reveal the moon’s surface.

During this Titan flyby, the spacecraft’s closest-approach altitude was 10,000 kilometres – considerably higher than earlier flybys of around 1,200 kilometres. But that allowed imaging over wide areas.

NASA explains the image.

The view looks toward terrain that is mostly on the Saturn-facing hemisphere of Titan. The scene features the parallel, dark, dune-filled regions named Fensal (to the north) and Aztlan (to the south), which form the shape of a sideways letter “H.”
Several places on the image show the surface at higher resolution than elsewhere. These areas, called subframes, show more detail because they were acquired near closest approach. They have finer resolution, but cover smaller areas than data obtained when Cassini was farther away from Titan.
Near the limb at left, above center, is the best VIMS view so far of Titan’s largest confirmed impact crater, Menrva (first seen by the RADAR instrument in PIA07365). Similarly detailed subframes show eastern Xanadu, the basin Hotei Regio, and channels within bright terrains east of Xanadu.

You can see Titan maps with named features on the USGS website here and read more about the Cassini-Huygens mission here.

For further reading about the moon see Could there be life in Titan’s methane sea?

Bill Condie

Bill Condie

Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.

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