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Cassini Gets New Views Of Titan's Land Of Lakes



Published on 25 October 2013



by NASA

(WireNews)

Washington, D.C.

Saturn's Moon Titan
Saturn's Moon Titan

With the sun now shining down over the north pole of Saturn’s moon Titan, a little luck with the weather, and trajectories that put the spacecraft into optimal viewing positions, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has obtained new pictures of the liquid methane and ethane seas and lakes that reside near Titan’s north pole. The images reveal new clues about how the lakes formed and about Titan’s Earth-like “hydrologic” cycle, which involves hydrocarbons rather than water.

This image maps infrared colors onto the visible-color spectrum, revealing differences in the composition of material around the lakes. The data suggest parts of Titan’s lakes and seas may have evaporated and left behind the Titan equivalent of Earth’s salt flats. Titan’s evaporated material is thought to be organic chemicals originally from haze particles that dissolved in liquid methane. They appear orange in this image against the greenish backdrop of Titan’s typical bedrock of water ice.

“It turns out that Titan’s north pole is even more interesting than we thought, with a complex interplay of liquids in lakes and seas and deposits left from the evaporation of past lakes and seas,” said Jason Barnes, a scientist at the University of Idaho.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency.

For more on Titan’s lakes, see the NASA press release.




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Posted 2013-10-25 16:24:00