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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Titan Revealed

Titan Revealed

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Saturday, July 21, 2018/Categories: natural history, photography, space science, art and design, environment, adventure

                                           Six Infrared Images of Titan (credit: Cassini Mission, JPL)

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory has released the most detailed images of Saturn's giant moon Titan yet. According to JPL,

"the six infrared images of Titan represent the clearest, most seamless-looking views of the icy moon's surface produced so far. They were created using 13 years of Cassini mapping data acquired by the VIMS instrument (Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer) carried on the spacecraft. Observing the surface of Titan in the visible light spectrum is difficult because of Titan's globe-enshrouding haze. But the moon's surface can be more readily imaged in infrared wavelengths. The VIMS imager removed the haze to obtain these clear images of Titan's surface. The moon's equatorial dunes appear in consistent brown colors while bluish and purplish areas may be enriched in water ice."

The images reveal that Titan has a complex surface with a myriad of geologic features. The scans have paved the way for future Titan explorations in higher infrared resolutions that could reveal even more landforms not detected by Cassini's cameras. JPL is considering a return to Saturn called the Titan Saturn System Mission that would explore the moons Titan and Enceladus. If the program is approved, the spacecraft would carry two Titan probes: a balloon that would be carried along in Titan's clouds and a float-like lander that would splash down in one of the moons hydrocarbon seas. The orbiter would continue gathering high-resolution imaging data of Titan as well as potentially "tasting the water" erupting from geysers in the sourthern region of the smaller moon Enceladus.

An animation describes the plans for such a future icy moons mission.

This 'way, way, out there' exploration should excite everyone by the possibilities awaiting discovery!



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