CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS

Changes in Titan's Lakes
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These mosaics of the south pole of Saturn's moon Titan, made from images taken almost one year apart, show changes in dark areas that may be lakes filled by seasonal rains of liquid hydrocarbons.

The images on the left (unlabeled at top and labeled at bottom) were acquired July 3, 2004. Those on the right were taken June 6, 2005. In the 2005 images, new dark areas are visible and have been circled in the labeled version. The very bright features are clouds in the lower atmosphere (the troposphere). Titan's clouds behave similarly to those on Earth, changing rapidly on timescales of hours and appearing in different places from day to day. During the year that elapsed between these two observations, clouds were frequently observed at Titan's south pole by observers on Earth and by Cassini's imaging science subsystem (see PIA06124).

It is likely that rain from a large storm created the new dark areas that were observed in June 2005. Some features, such as Ontario Lacus, show differences in brightness between the two observations that are the result of differences in illumination between the two observations. These mosaics use images taken in infrared light at a wavelength of 938 nanometers. The images have been oriented with the south pole in the center (black cross) and the 0 degree meridian toward the top. Image resolutions are several kilometers (several miles).

The Cassini Equinox Mission is a joint United States and European endeavor. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. 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 Equinox Mission visit, and

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Released: January 29, 2009 (PIA 11147)
Image/Caption Information
  Changes in Titan's Lakes
PIA 11147

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Alliance Member Comments
mipsandbips (Apr 27, 2009 at 7:52 PM):
A truly remarkable transformation of the landscape on Titan and in
only one year's time!
Dragon_of_Luck_Mah_Jonng1971 (Feb 4, 2009 at 7:55 PM):
Wow ! That's an amazing and very interesting discovery . And it's awesome, too. That within a few years happened strong changes in Titan's lakes. I think that this happened by precipitation ( I believe by methane/ethane rain, not by methane/ethane snow ) . I don't think that this happened by underground methane/ethane springs although they are also present on Titan.
Red_dragon (Jan 30, 2009 at 10:31 AM):
It's a pity Cassini was not flying-by Titan when that storm was doing its job -it would be a really interesting and amazing view-. If during equinox storms become more frequent and also appear in the ecuatorial regions, as I suspect, perhaps Cassini will be lucky enough to catch one. And if that occurs during a flyby...well.

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