- Nov 20, 2007
- Reaction score
Title Seeing Titan with infrared eyes
Released 14/01/2019 9:30 am
Copyright NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Nantes/University of Arizona
Saturn’s moon Titan is enveloped in a thick atmosphere, but through the infrared eyes of the international Cassini mission, the moon’s myriad surface features are revealed in this exquisite global mosaic.
Observing the surface of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, in visible light is difficult due to the globe-enshrouding haze that envelops the moon. On 14 January 2005, the mystery as to what lay beneath the thick atmosphere was revealed as ESA’s Huygens probe – carried to Titan by Cassini – made the first successful landing on a world in the outer Solar System. During the two-and-a-half hour descent under parachute, features that looked remarkably like shore lines and river systems on Earth appeared from the haze. But rather than water, with surface temperatures of around –180ºC, the fluid involved here is methane, a simple organic compound that also contributes to the moon’s obscuring atmosphere.