CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS

Alien Weather
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A bright streak of cloud graces the northern skies of Titan.

This is the second time Cassini's imaging cameras have spotted clouds at 60 degrees north latitude on Titan--the previous occasion being the Feb. 2007 observations during which the cameras saw the dark, hydrocarbon lakes that cover much of the north. That cloud feature is visible at the bottom of the still image in PIA08365.

The circular, 400-kilometer wide impact feature Menrva can be seen near center.

North on Titan (5,150 kilometers, 3,200 miles across) is up and rotated 26 degrees to the right.

The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Jan. 20, 2008 using a combination of spectral filters sensitive to wavelengths of polarized infrared light centered at 938 and 746 nanometers. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 1.3 million kilometers (800,000 miles) from Titan and at a Sun-Titan-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 58 degrees. Image scale is 8 kilometers (5 miles) per pixel. Due to scattering of light by Titan's hazy atmosphere, the sizes of surface features that can be resolved are a few times larger than the actual pixel scale.

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 Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The imaging team consists of scientists from the US, England, France, and Germany. The imaging operations center and team lead (Dr. C. Porco) are based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission, visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov and the Cassini imaging team home page, http://ciclops.org.

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Released: February 27, 2008 (PIA 09846)
Image/Caption Information
  Alien Weather
PIA 09846

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Alliance Member Comments
Mercury_3488 (Feb 27, 2008 at 5:30 PM):
Very nice Titan image.

The northern cloud appears to be a semi permanent feature. I reckon it to be from condensation from the hydrocarbon lakes & from the slighter colder polar region, which is slowly coming out of Winter into Spring (Titan northern Spring Equinox in August 2009, four months prior to Saturn itself).

Hopefully, we get the mission extensions, to partly monitor this & see if the lakes in the south fill up as Titan southern Winter arrives there.

Andrew Brown.

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