Watch Clouds Moving Across Saturn’s Largest Moon Titan

Posted: Nov 7 2016, 9:09pm CST | by , Updated: Nov 7 2016, 9:19pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

 

Watch Clouds Moving Across Saturn’s Largest Moon Titan
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
 

NASA' Cassini time-lapse video shows clouds in motion over Titan's northern region

NASA Cassini is the first spacecraft to orbit around Saturn, providing a broader understanding of planet’s magnificent rings system and its atmosphere. The most fascinating findings, however, came from encounters with Saturn’s dynamic moons, including Titan.

Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, possesses many features similar to Earth such as lakes, rivers, dunes, mountains and even clouds. 

NASA has recently released a stunning time-lapse video showing summer clouds streaming across Titan’s far northern regions. The images were taken on October 29 and 30, 2016 using Cassini narrow-angle camera. Infrared filters have also been used to make clouds and surface visible, which would otherwise impossible to see with naked eye.

“Several sets of clouds develop, move over the surface and fade during the course of this movie sequence, which spans 11 hours, with one frame taken every 20 minutes,” NASA blog says. 

“Most prominent are long cloud streaks that lie between 49 and 55 degrees north latitude…These clouds are measured to move at a speed of about 14 to 22 miles per hour (7 to 10 meters per second).”

Titan is the only moon in our solar system that has clouds and an Earth-like dense atmosphere. Some clouds sit close to the surface while others are found higher in the atmosphere. 

On Earth clouds form as water evaporates into the air and condenses into clouds at higher levels. Most of the clouds on Titan also form in the same way - but they involve methane instead of water. 

Cassini has also observed Titan’s clouds forming in unexpected locations like very high in the atmosphere or much lower than usual, suggesting more different processes can be at work at Titan’s atmosphere. 

Time-lapse videos like this can help scientists to understand the dynamics of clouds as they develop, move around the surface and fade with seasonal changes.

Cassini will continue to monitor the weather of Titan’s northern hemisphere till 2017.

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