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This global digital map of Saturn’s moon Titan was created using images taken by the Cassini spacecraft's imaging science subsystem (ISS).
The images were taken using a filter centered at 938 nanometers, allowing researchers to examine variations in albedo (or inherent brightness) variations across the surface of Titan. Because of the scattering of light by Titan's dense atmosphere, no topographic shading is visible in these images.
The map is an equidistant projection and has a scale of 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) per pixel. Actual resolution varies greatly across the map, with the best coverage (close to the map scale) near the center and edges of the map and the worst coverage on the leading hemisphere (centered around 120 degrees west longitude).
Imaging coverage in the northern polar region continues to improve as Titan approaches northern vernal equinox in August 2009 and the north pole comes out of shadow. Large dark areas, strongly suspected to be liquid-hydrocarbon-filled lakes, have been documented at high latitudes (see PIA11146).
The mean radius of Titan used for projection of this map is 2,575 kilometers (1,600 miles). Titan is assumed to be spherical until a control network -- or model of the moon's shape based on multiple images tied together at defined points on the surface -- is created at some point in the future.
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.