Where In The Universe?

Article written: 30 Apr , 2008
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
by

The past couple of weeks we’ve had a ‘mystery’ image, and asked our readers to guess what world in our solar system was featured in the image. Most everyone seemed to enjoy it, and it was fairly popular, so we’ve decided to make it a regular feature. I was going to call it the ‘Wednesday Where in the World (and What World) Is This?’ but that’s just too long, not to mention too many W’s in one headline. So to brief it up, and since this is “Universe Today,” we’ve decided to call it “Where In The Universe?” Look for it every Wednesday.

Above is this week’s mystery image. If you keep an eye on the images being released by the various spacecraft traveling our solar system, you may have seen this one before. Remember, you have 8 planets, 169 known moons, a handful of dwarf planets and lots of asteroids in our solar system to choose from. Don’t cheat — make your guess before you click to continue…

This is an image of Saturn’s moon Titan, taken by the Huygen’s probe as it descended through Titan’s thick atmosphere and down to the surface. It’s a Mercator projection, or a flattened image of the curved globe of Titan. Don’t feel bad if you guessed Mars — the coloring and mountains are reminiscent of Mars, or even some areas on Earth. It’s exciting to know that Titan has those similar features, too.


This is a full poster of images taken at four different altitudes from the descent imager/spectral radiometer on the European Space Agency’s Huygens probe, showing aerial views of the landing site. The images were taken on Jan. 14, 2005. Coming up in less than 12 days, Cassini will flyby Titan at a fairly close proximity, at about 1000 km (621 miles) above the surface of this interesting moon. The flyby will be on May 12, 2008.

Original Source: Cassini website


19 Responses

  1. LLDIAZ says

    LOOKS LIKE VENUS TOO.

  2. Jorge says

    Remember, you have 8 planets, 169 known moons, a handful of dwarf planets and lots of asteroids in our solar system to choose from.

    True, but only 4 with a solid surface and an atmosphere, and only one with that kind of colours and topography. This was way too easy.

    If you showed us a picture of Dione, though, or Rhea, or some generic rocky crater field, that would be a real challenge.

  3. Molecular says

    Well, this obviously is Saturn’s “dreamsicle” moon Titan. 🙂

  4. Al Hall says

    Jorge – Yep.. Or better yet, Eros from an altitude of 3 miles.. 🙂

  5. owen says

    Its a great idea

  6. RL says

    Well obviously its from Titan. Yeah, right.

    The picture is Amazing! I guessed Mars. Next time I’ll guess Titan and find out its Earth!

    Are the colors real? Is there much visible light there? I’d think not but I’d like to know.

  7. Jorge says

    Al, now that’s just mean!… 😀

  8. Jorge says

    Oh, and sorry for the double post; I just thought of this.

    Know how this little game would be even more interesting? If you didn’t tell us right away what we’re looking at. Let it rest for a few hours, let us sweat down here. And then explain, either in a new post of throug an edit in these.

    LLDIAZ, the problem with Venus is that we have a very limited stock of surface photos from there, and the topography is wrong for those. Limited stock is also a problem with Titan, of course, but in this case the topography is just right… 😉

  9. Freiddie says

    How come everyone else got it? I thought it was Venus or something (it really looks like volcanoes).

  10. launchwindow says

    Freiddie, Titan is thought to have cryo-volcanoes, its only a recent discovery with Cassini. So you might be forgiven for thinking the only alien world’s with mountains are Venus and Mars

  11. DrBill says

    Anybody know what the light and darker areas are made of? Looks like snow on a rocky landscape, but I’m sure it must be something much more exotic.

  12. Rafael says

    I guessed Venus as well, one of the many Magellan sent back. An image from Mars would’ve probably shown better surface resolution. But Titan? Wow – good one.

  13. Alan LIpkin says

    Mars was 1st impulse, but after a second or two Titan was apparent. I’d rate this as “Average Difficulty”. I’m lovin’ this feature! Give us a tough one! (The Rachat Structure in Northwestern Africa would snow most.)

  14. RUF says

    AL:
    That’s twice now I’ve seen mention of a Rachat Structure, yet every attempt to look it up has produced nothing. Does it go by a more familiar (ie English) name?

  15. Al Hall says

    I think he was referring to the Richat structure.

  16. RUF says

    Ah… found it. Most bizarre….

  17. Tim says

    DrBill,
    The light and dark areas are most likely the same effect as snow on a rocky landscape. However it would be methane. On Titan methane exists simalir to water on Earth. Titan is in a spot in the solar system where it has a tempature where methane can exist in liquid, solid, and gaseous states. It would be very intresting to see if there is life that uses methane much like we use water. Most people though have counted out Titan for the search for life in think they should send a probe to see if the is som sort of bacterial or multi-celluler sort of life. Sorry for the ranting.
    ,Tim

  18. Beep says

    A panorama 180 degree picture. Looks like false color. The picture shows different angles/positions. Made from a spacecraft orbiting a moon with a quite thin atmosphere. It’s not Titan since Titan has a dense atmosphere. I was thinking of Europe, but there is too much detail.

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