Giant Saturn and Its Giant Moon
05 September 2012

Fig. 1
A Cassini spacecraft image of Saturn and its largest moon
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

NASA recently published a natural color image of Saturn and its largest moon, Titan, acquired by the Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft. Titan (5,150 km across) is the second largest planetary moon; it is even larger than Mercury (4,880 km across), the smallest planet. Interestingly, Saturn is currently undergoing seasonal changes, as spring has begun in the planet’s northern hemisphere.

Cassini scientists have been monitoring Titan's south polar region, as a vortex, a type of storms, appeared in its atmosphere, in 2012. Titan is the only moon known to possess a dense atmosphere. Its surface is shrouded by clouds and hazes in its nitrogen-rich atmosphere.

Titan orbits Saturn, every 16 days, at an average distance of about 1.22 million km. For comparison, the Moon (3,476 km across) orbits Earth (12,756 km across) every 27.3 days, at an average distance of about 384,000 km.

Images taken through various spectral filters have been combined, to produce Fig. 1. The images were obtained with Cassini’s wide-angle camera, on 6 May 2012, at a distance of approximately 778,000 km from Titan.


NASA’s Planetary Photojournal

Aymen Mohamed Ibrahem
Senior Astronomy Specialist

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