Titan Images 2017

The image above, obtained on May 7, 2017 from the Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS) of the Cassini spacecraft, reveals several large, elongated cloud systems in the northern hemisphere of the Opaque Moon Titan. The view which was acquired at a distance of 311,000 miles or 500,000 kilometers represents an orthographic projection centered on 37.5 degrees north latitude and 45 degrees west longitude. An orthographic image is roughly similar to the view seen by a distant watcher. Planetologists had anticipated a rise in cloud activity in the high latitudes of the northern hemisphere since the Summer season in the northern hemisphere is about to start in less than a month. The seasonal change implies an increase in the level of solar radiation reaching the north polar region of Titan. As a result, the level of evaporation in the high latitudes of the northern hemisphere may rise leading to the formation of new clouds with a higher level of cloud activity.
The new view unveils several cloud systems in the northern hemisphere from relatively low latitudes to relatively high latitudes close to the major lakes and seas. Those Titanian clouds represent some of the most intensely bright clouds captured from the Cassini orbiter regarding Titan. The brightness of the clouds may be related to high-cloud tops. The meteorological activity observed here corresponds to the most extensive cloud outburst identified on the Hazy Moon since clouds came back at northern mid-latitudes in early 2016. Three major cloud systems composed of methane can be clearly noticed here. The cloud band found in the lower part of the view lies between 30 and 38 degrees north latitude. That's quite surprising since researchers have not identified many clouds in this latitude range before that observation. A fainter band of clouds can be noticed between 44 and 50 degrees north latitude. Cloud systems have been identified quite regularly in that area over the past year. A third major cloud streak can be seen between 52 and 59 degrees north latitude.
A few isolated cirrus-like clouds can also be found at more extreme latitudes. Some clouds can be found near the southern boundary of the north polar terrain close to 63 degrees north latitude. Another cloud system can be noticed in the south at a remarkably low latitude of 23 degrees north latitude. A dark land located at a relatively low latitude and dominated by dune fields can be found in the lower part of the view. A dark patch in a relatively bright area with a streak orientated toward the northeast or the upper right draws the attention. This dark patch is known as Omacatl Macula. This surface feature may correspond to an area of dark dust that takes the shape of dunes in some locations. Some circular features in the area may represent impact craters, calderas or cryovolcanoes.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute.

 

The view in the upper part of this table unveils several elongated cloud systems drifting across the northern hemisphere of Saturn's largest moon Titan. The image was acquired from the Cassini spacecraft on May 7, 2017 at a distance of 316,000 miles or 508,000 kilometers from the Opaque Moon. The photo corresponds to an orthographic projection centered on 57 degrees north latitude and 48 degrees west longitude. The orthographic image is roughly similar to the view obtained by a distant observer. Surface and cloud features on Titan can be clearly observed or identified in the infrared or near-infrared spectrum. The clouds, revealed here, are apparently composed of methane.
The image was taken during a distant, non-targeted flyby of the Orange Moon during which the orbiter passed 303,000 miles or 488,000 kilometers above the surface of the giant moon. The last targeted close flyby of Titan was performed in April 2017. However, during its orbits around Saturn, we are in a position to collect, from the Cassini probe, key data regarding the atmosphere or the surface of Titan. The dark patches found in the upper part or in the high latitudes of the globe correspond to lakes or seas of hydrocarbons. Methane and ethane can appear in their liquid form on the surface of the Hazy Moon.
The image in the lower part of the table shows two versions of this view. The view found on the left represents a strongly enhanced version of the image whereas the view found on the right corresponds to a version of the image which is much softly enhanced. Therefore, the contrast is weaker and surface features are less obvious in the view on the right. The Summer season in the northern hemisphere of Titan is about to start very soon and researchers have anticipated an increase in the level of cloud activity in the high latitudes of the northern hemisphere. Are the observations in line with prevailing models of Titan's climate and meteorology ? The evaporation and condensation processes seem to be increasing in the northern hemisphere.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute.

 

The three images of this table correspond to raw views or unprocessed images of Saturn's largest moon Titan obtained from the Cassini spacecraft during the final close flyby of the Opaque Moon on April 21, 2017. From outer space, one can notice surface features on Titan in the infrared or near-infrared spectrum. The Titanian atmosphere appears completely opaque in the visible spectrum. The relatively dark areas found at low latitudes are dominated by Seif Dunes. Lakes, seas and rivers turn out to be concentrated in the high latitudes or in the polar regions of the Orange Moon. In the upper view, one can notice the dark regions of Fensal and Aztlan. Are Fensal and Aztlan the remnants of ancient seas of liquid methane or liquid ethane ? How can we explain the dichotomy in the distribution of surface liquids between the south polar region and the north polar region or between the low latitudes and the high latitudes ? Is the hazy atmosphere of the giant moon stable over time ?

Credit for the images: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute.

 

This image corresponds to a mosaic view revealing the lakes and seas located in the high latitudes of the northern hemisphere of Saturn's largest moon Titan. The images used to assemble this mosaic view were obtained on February 17, 2017 from the Narrow-Angle Camera of the Cassini probe during a relatively distant encounter with the Opaque Moon as the spacecraft was speeding away from Titan. The image was acquired at a distance of about 150,700 miles or 242,500 kilometers from the giant moon. The views were captured with a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared radiation centered at 938 nanometers. At this wavelength, one can see through the opaque atmosphere of Titan and discern landscape features, lakes, seas and even clouds. The image represents an orthographic projection centered on 68 degrees north latitude and 225 degrees west longitude. An orthographic image is roughly similar to the image seen by a distant watcher observing with a telescope.
The mosaic view clearly shows the land of lakes, seas and rivers found in the high latitudes of the northern hemisphere. Kraken Mare, Ligeia Mare and Punga Mare can be clearly discerned here. One can notice several prominent cloud streaks evolving at mid-latitudes between 45 and 55 degrees north latitude to the right of the image. A bright cloud patch can also be identified in the area of the lake or sea Punga Mare found to the right of Kraken Mare roughly at center. During this distant encounter, the viewing angle over Kraken Mare and its neighboring pool of liquid hydrocarbons Ligeia Mare appeared better than during previous flybys with a higher contrast so that more details could be discerned regarding landscape features and the shorelines or the boundaries of the surface bodies of liquid. The solar radiations had to go through less haze to reach the lakes or seas and to bounce toward the eye of the Cassini spacecraft. That's why the quality of the image appeared better this time than during previous passes.
This encounter represented one of several "non-targeted" passes of the Opaque Moon in 2017 that enable researchers to monitor and analyze cloud activity in the high latitudes of the northern hemisphere. The engineers did not have to use rocket-thruster firings to orientate the probe for this flyby. The Spring season in the northern hemisphere is about to end and the Summer season in the northern hemisphere is approaching. Does this period of transition imply significant changes in cloud activity in the north polar region ? Probably because researchers are now observing increasing cloud activity in the north polar region. However, some models regarding Titan's meteorology or atmosphere had predicted more cloud activity than what scientists currently observe.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute.          

 

The image above reveals, in particular, several elongated cloud patches evolving around the north polar region of Saturn's largest moon Titan. One can also notice the famous land of lakes and seas which appear relatively dark and uniform in this view. Titan's northern hemisphere is now experiencing the end of the Spring season. The long Summer season in the area will start very soon during the year of 2017. The lakes, seas or rivers may be mainly composed of methane, a simple hydrocarbon. The wispy clouds appear at high altitudes and at high latitudes. Researchers have noticed an increase in the amount or in the concentration of clouds in the area but they had expected the development of more clouds or larger cloud formations in this seasonal configuration. The sky of the Opaque Moon in the high latitudes of the northern hemisphere is surprisingly clear in this period of the Titanian year. Clouds are remarkably dynamic or sporadic. Researchers try to regularly monitor the atmosphere or the meteorology of Titan in order to have a correct insight into the level of cloud activity. Are the amount of clouds, the concentration of clouds or the distribution of clouds in line with the predictions of the prevailing meteorological model of Titan ?
The view was acquired with the Narrow-Angle Camera of the Cassini probe on October 29, 2016 using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared radiation centered at 938 nanometers. The camera is orientated toward the Saturn-facing side of the Hazy Moon. North appears upward and is inclined 3 degrees to the left. The image of Titan's disk was taken at a distance of about 545,000 miles or 878,000 kilometers from the Opaque Moon. The infrared or near-infrared views allow us to discern surface features as well as clouds. One can also notice in this view the dark low-latitude areas which tend to be dominated by Seif Dunes or parallel and linear dunes extending over long distances under the influence of prevailing winds.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute.

 

Titan Images 2016
Titan Images 2015
Titan Images 2014
Titan Images 2013
Titan Images 2012

Titan Images 2011
Titan Images 2010
Titan Images 2009
Titan Images 2008
Titan Images 2007
Titan Images 2006
Titan Images 2005, 2004

Back to main page