Titan's Murky South Pole
April 27, 2009
This Cassini spacecraft image affords a view of Titan's south polar region, an area home to one of Titan's hydrocarbon ''lake districts.''
Titan's south pole is illuminated to the right of the terminator near the bottom of the visible disk. The dark area near the bottom, in Titan's mid-southern latitudes, is Mezzoramia. The wider, darker region near the equator is named Senkyo. A "lake district" (see Changes in Titan's Lakes) containing what scientists believe are lakes of hydrocarbons has been found surrounding Titan's south pole.
Lit terrain seen here is on the Saturn-facing side of Titan (5,150 kilometers, or 3,200 miles across). North on Titan is up and rotated 27 degrees to the right. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Feb. 15, 2009 using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 938 nanometers. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 1.2 million kilometers (746,000 miles) from Titan and at a Sun-Titan-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 55 degrees. Image scale is 7 kilometers (4 miles) per pixel.
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 mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.
Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute