Irregular bright and dark regions of yet unidentified composition and character are becoming increasingly visible on Titan's surface as Cassini approaches its scheduled first flyby of Saturn's largest moon on July 2, 2004.
This view represents an improvement in resolution of nearly three times over the previous Cassini images of Titan. Titan's surface is difficult to study, veiled by a dense hydrocarbon haze that forms in the high stratosphere as methane is destroyed by sunlight. This image is different from previous Titan images by Cassini because it was taken through a special filter, called a polarizer, which is designed to see through the atmosphere to the surface.
Cassini will conduct a critical 96-minute burn before going into orbit around Saturn on June 30 (July 1 Universal Time), with its first scheduled flyby of Titan on July 2.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.
For the latest Cassini images visit the Cassini imaging team home page, http://ciclops.org