Final View Of Titan’s Lakes And Seas From NASA's Cassini Spacecraft

Posted: Sep 14 2018, 3:16am CDT | by , Updated: Sep 14 2018, 3:22am CDT, in Latest Science News


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Final View of Titan’s Lakes and Seas from NASA's Cassini Spacecraft
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

Cassini spacecraft obtained the view of Titan's north pole just days before it crashed into Saturn's atmosphere.

Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, is a world of lakes and seas. This moon is the only place in our solar system other than Earth that has stable liquid reservoirs on its surface, but they are filled with methane and ethane instead of water.

During NASA Cassini mission’s final months, the spacecraft captured some of the most incredible images of Titan’s north pole that harbors lakes and seas. The images are mosaic based on data obtained during Sept. 11, 2017. The mosaic image features one of the largest seas on Titan, Ligeia Mare, that stretches 300 miles and contains pure methane. Punga Mare appears just above the center of the image while vast Kraken Mare is visible in the left of the image. The seas are surrounded by many smaller lakes. On Sept. 15, Cassini spacecraft ended its remarkable journey with a deliberate plunge into the Saturn’s atmosphere.

All large seas on Titan are located close to the moon's north pole while southern hemisphere contains just one large lake. Cassini also frequently observed cloud activity near Titan's south pole since its arrival in the Saturn’s system in 2004. More recently, only a few small clouds have been observed anywhere on the icy moon and this lack of cloud activity has surprised researchers.

"We expected more symmetry between the southern and northern summer," said Elizabeth ("Zibi") Turtle from the Cassini Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS) team that captured the image. "In fact, atmospheric models predicted summer clouds over the northern latitudes several years ago. So, the fact that they still hadn't appeared before the end of the mission is telling us something interesting about Titan's methane cycle and weather.”

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft Saturn and its moons for 13 years. Until the Cassini mission, researchers knew very little about Titan and its atmosphere. Cassini observations revealed that Titan has a dense, nitrogen-rich atmosphere, making it in some ways an Earth-like body.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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