CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS
Southern Swirl

Cassini monitors Titan's developing south polar vortex, which is a mass of swirling gas around the pole in the atmosphere of the moon.

The vortex can be seen at the bottom of this view. See PIA14919 and PIA14920 to learn more. The moon's northern hood is also visible at the top of this view. See PIA08137 and PIA12775 to learn more about the hood.

This view looks toward the Saturn-facing side of Titan (3200 miles, 5150 kilometers across). North is up and rotated 14 degrees to the left.

The image was taken in visible blue light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on July 18, 2012. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 1.9 million miles (3 million kilometers) from Titan and at a Sun-Titan-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 85 degrees. Scale in the original image was 11 miles (18 kilometers) per pixel. The image was contrast enhanced and magnified by a factor of 1.5 to enhance the visibility of features.

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 6, 2012 (PIA 14620)
Image/Caption Information
  Southern Swirl
PIA 14620

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Alliance Member Comments
NeKto (Aug 12, 2012 at 8:17 AM):
fascinating things happening on this unique moon. who said gasoline and water don't mix? essentially that is what this moon is made of. ice with an icing of hydrocarbons. but what is actually happening in that 600 K deep atmosphere that generates those polar hoods?
does the IR imaging give us any clues?