CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS
Tracing Surface Features on Titan

Tracing Surface Features on Titan
PIA 06202

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Tracing Surface Features on Titan
PIA 06203

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  These images of Titan's south polar region were acquired during Cassini's first (and distant) encounter with the smog-enshrouded moon on July 2, 2004. The spacecraft approached Titan at a distance of about 340,000 kilometers (211,000 miles) during this flyby.

The first montage contains pairs of close-up images, with the original images (at left) and also versions in which some of the narrow, dark, curvilinear and rectilinear surface features have been traced by red lines (at right). These dark features may be examples of surface channels and deeper crustal structures such as faults. The longest features (in the third and fourth pairs from the top) extend for as much as 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) across the surface and are as narrow as 10 kilometers (6 miles) across. At bottom left, a single frame shows a small dark circular feature, which could be an impact crater. For reference, the white bar at bottom right is a 1,000-km (620 mile) -long scale bar.

The second image is a mosaic of Titan's south polar region, and is the source of the images in the montage. It is a contrast-enhanced version of a previously released image (see PIA06109) which allows surface details to be more easily seen. The very bright features near the South Pole are clouds.

Due to Titan's thick, hazy atmosphere, the sizes of surface features that can be resolved are a few to five times larger than the actual pixel scale. At this distance, pixel scale is 2 kilometers (about 1 mile), so features larger than several kilometers across are resolved in the images.

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.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission, visit and the Cassini imaging team home page,

Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Released: March 9, 2005 (PIA 06202, 06203)
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