On the Edge of Titan

by Jason Major on June 9, 2012

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Titan's haze-covered limb seen by Cassini on June 6

Here’s a quick look at one of my favorite cosmic photo subjects – the varying layers of atmosphere that enshroud Saturn’s enormous moon Titan. The image above is a color-composite made from three raw images acquired by Cassini┬áduring its latest flyby.

On June 7 Cassini approached Titan within 596 miles (959 km) and imaged portions of the moon’s northwest quadrant with its radar instrument, as well as conducted further investigations of areas near the equator where surface changes were detected in 2010.

The image here was assembled from three raw images captured in red, green and blue visible light channels. It reveals some structure in the upper hydrocarbon haze layers that extend upwards above the moon’s opaque orange clouds — reaching 400-500 km in altitude, Titan’s atmosphere is ten times thicker than Earth’s!

The June 6 flyby was the second in a series of passes that will take Cassini into a more inclined orbit, where it will reside for the next three years as it investigates Saturn’s polar regions and obtains better views of its ring system.

Read more about the flyby here.

Image: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute. Composite by J. Major.


A graphic designer in Rhode Island, Jason writes about space exploration on his blog Lights In The Dark, Discovery News, and, of course, here on Universe Today. Ad astra!

RichardLAnderson June 9, 2012 at 6:27 PM
Dampe June 9, 2012 at 10:35 PM

The picture alone was enough to warrant an article! I love Titan. I think it’s the mystery behind it. I can’t wait for someone to send a new landing mission there!

Kawarthajon June 10, 2012 at 2:02 AM

I agree, I just hope they do it in my lifetime!!!

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Peristroika June 10, 2012 at 1:07 PM

I love Titan and am thrilled as each of its secrets becomes known but I’m equally interested in getting a closer look at Saturn’s claim to fame…the rings. So many simulations and not a single shot that gives us a clue as to what they really are made of.

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