CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS
Colorful Colossuses and Changing Hues

Colorful Colossuses and Changing Hues
PIA 14922

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  A giant of a moon appears before a giant of a planet undergoing seasonal changes in this natural color view of Titan and Saturn from NASA's Cassini spacecraft.

Titan, Saturn's largest moon, measures 3,200 miles, or 5,150 kilometers, across and is larger than the planet Mercury. Cassini scientists have been watching the moon's south pole since a vortex appeared in its atmosphere in 2012. See PIA14919 and PIA14920 to learn more about this mass of swirling gas around the pole in the atmosphere of the moon.

As the seasons have changed in the Saturnian system, and spring has come to the north and autumn to the south, the azure blue in the northern Saturnian hemisphere that greeted Cassini upon its arrival in 2004 is now fading. The southern hemisphere, in its approach to winter, is taking on a bluish hue. This change is likely due to the reduced intensity of ultraviolet light and the haze it produces in the hemisphere approaching winter, and the increasing intensity of ultraviolet light and haze production in the hemisphere approaching summer. The presence of the ring shadow in the winter hemisphere enhances this effect. The reduction of haze and the consequent clearing of the atmosphere make for a bluish hue: the increased opportunity for direct scattering of sunlight by the molecules in the air makes the sky blue, as on Earth. The presence of methane, which generally absorbs in the red part of the spectrum, in a now clearer atmosphere also enhances the blue.

This view looks toward the northern, sunlit side of the rings from just above the ring plane.

This mosaic combines six images -- two each of red, green and blue spectral filters -- to create this natural color view. The images were obtained with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on May 6, 2012, at a distance of approximately 483,000 miles (778,000 kilometers) from Titan. Image scale is 29 miles (46 kilometers) per pixel on Titan.

The Cassini Solstice 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 Solstice Mission visit, and

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
Released: August 29, 2012 (PIA 14922)
Image/Caption Information

Alliance Member Comments
Dragon_of_Luck_Mah_Jonng1971 (Sep 14, 2012 at 6:30 PM):
Many special hues at the northern temperate and northern polar latitudes.
So much beauty
Dragon_of_Luck_Mah_Jonng1971 (Sep 8, 2012 at 5:39 PM):
My rating is '12' , almost '13' .
patillac (Aug 31, 2012 at 1:45 PM):
Rather unimpressed with the surprisingly low resolution of the images, but they do look great!
Murdo (Aug 31, 2012 at 5:29 AM):
This is a stunningly beautiful picture. Thank you to the team the vision to imagine the possible and the daring to do the impossible.
vera (Aug 30, 2012 at 8:55 AM):
Amazing! Fantastic images!!Congratulations, Carolyn and all team.
Iapetus Monolith (Aug 30, 2012 at 5:50 AM):
I go weak in the presence of beauty ... awestruck!
Red_dragon (Aug 30, 2012 at 2:31 AM):
Another amazing picture; as you comment, it's fun to compare Saturn's look of the northern & southern hemispheres in this image with the aspect they had on earlier images you released.

As a side note, having started to read Stephen Baxter's "Titan". Highly suggested.
drtaher (Aug 30, 2012 at 0:43 AM):
This is an amazing picture ... sure to adorn my desktop if I have your permission to use it on my home PC. Thanks for a brilliant take. Carolyn and the team ... take a bow.
mic1303 (Aug 29, 2012 at 9:48 PM):
Oh, my!
JimRinX (Aug 29, 2012 at 5:05 PM):
Wow.....those are Nice!
Sooooo much prettier than those pathetic pictures from that danged old up-staging usurper of a 'rover'......Yes, soo much prettier (There? Feel Better, Carolyn? I know how you ladies get....)