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High altitude haze and perhaps cloud layers are visible in this ISS image acquired on October 24 as the Cassini spacecraft neared its first close encounter with Titan. The image was acquired at a distance of about one million kilometers in a near ultraviolet filter that is sensitive to scattering by small particles. The Sun preferentially illuminates the southern hemisphere at this time, and the northern day-night terminator is visible at the upper boundary. The well-known global detached haze layer, hundreds of kilometers above Titan's surface, is visible as a thin bright ring around the entire planet produced by photochemical reactions. At the northern high-latitude edge of the image, additional striations are visible, caused by particulates that are at high enough altitude to be illuminated by the Sun near the horizon even though the north polar region surface below is in darkness. These striations may simply be caused by wave perturbations propagating through the detached haze, or they may be evidence of additional regional haze or cloud layers not present at other latitudes.
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.