A New Flyby of Titan
24 May 2007
 

 

Credit: NASA/JPL

On 12 May 2007, the Saturn-bound Cassini spacecraft performed its 31st flyby of Saturn's largest moon, Titan (5,150 km across). During the flyby, designated T30, the radar instrument onboard Cassini acquired a spectacular image showing remarkable terrains on Titan.

The image shows the coastline and numerous island groups of a portion of a large sea. This is consistent with the discovery of a large sea on Titan by Cassini (see http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA08930).

The lakes and seas of Titan are not filled with water, they rather contain liquid hydrocarbons, probably a mix of methane and ethane. They are closely similar to their terrestrial counterparts, with features, such as channels, islands, bays.

The data also demonstrated a striking fact about this sea: the relative absence of brighter regions within it, indicating a depth that exceeds tens of meters.

Particularly interesting is the existence of isolated islands, which follow the same direction as the peninsula to their lower right, suggesting that they may be part of a mountain ridgeline that has been flooded. This resembles Catalina Island off the coast of Southern California.   

The image as is about 160 km by 270 km, with a resolution of 300 m.

Further Reading

Cassini-Huygens Mission

http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/home/index.cfm

Aymen Mohamed Ibrahem

Senior Astronomy Specialist

  
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