CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS
Approaching Titan Again

Titan presented this face as Cassini approached for its second very close flyby of the mystery moon in December, 2004. Prominent in the center of the image is Xanadu, a broad bright area on Titan first seen by the Hubble Space Telescope in the mid-1990s. The region seen a few hours later during this encounter at higher resolution has just started to rotate into view on the left when this image was taken. Regions on the right (east) in this image had not been seen clearly before.

Other interesting features in this image, seen first by Cassini, include a bright 560 kilometer- (345 mile-) wide semi-circle in the lower right of Xanadu which may be an impact structure, and a confirmed crater with multiple concentric rings (near upper right). The inner, dark circular feature in this crater is 300 +/- 20 kilometers (186 +/- 12 miles) in diameter.

Below Xanadu, two bright, linear clouds can be seen at about 38 deg S latitude; these clouds were seen to dissipate a few hours later. Surprisingly, no clouds were seen near the south pole, as had been seen during the October close encounter (see PIA 06124) and during the July distant encounter (see PIA 06110).

This image was taken on December 10, 2004 at a distance of 1,746,000 km (1,082,500 miles) and has a scale of 10.4 km (6 miles) per pixel. A special filter in the near-infrared at 938 nm was used for this image. The image was processed to enhance surface features and sharpen boundaries. Some artifacts, like the false shadow around the bright streaked cloud, are a result of the processing.

[This caption was modified on March 9, 2005.]

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: December 16, 2004 (PIA 06154)
Image/Caption Information
  Approaching Titan Again
PIA 06154

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