August 13, 2007
This north polar image of Titan was acquired by Cassini's radar instrument on May 12, 2007.
Stretching from 69 degrees north, 329 degrees west to 33 degrees north, 227 degrees west, this swath gently curves from west-to-east at the left end to north-to-south at the right. It is more than 2,700 kilometers (1,678 miles) long and varies from 200 to 500 kilometers (124 to 310 miles) in width, covering the southern extreme of a large dark area previously imaged by the Imaging Science Subsystem (see Exploring the Wetlands of Titan). The thin white stripe at immediate left is an artifact related to the instrument's multi-beam operation; throughout the swath there are some near-vertical stripes that are also artifacts.
As displayed here, the extreme left end of the image shows the west margin of a dark area interpreted to be a lake of liquid methane and probably ethane, with obvious shore-like features, such as bays, inlets and islands. Radar images show smooth areas as dark, and this lake is among the darkest areas seen so far on Titan. The eastern margin of the lake is similarly complex, and some of the shoreline features seem related to ridges and lower topography on the shore, as if the liquid in the lake has filled lower-lying areas between ridges. Some of these channels drain into the lake, while others go into a slightly brighter, more uniform area that may be connected to the lake just off the lower edge of the image (for more details on this area, see Coasts and Drowned Mountains). Farther to the right, moving southward, a complex region of ridges and channels transitions to more subdued landforms with circular or lobate features, some of which have raised rims. The terrain toward the right of the image is rougher, with topographic depressions that resemble dried lakebeds, lacking the dark material seen in the lakes farther north. Toward the right end of the image, farthest from the north pole, a series of long, low depressions is seen against a relatively dark background.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. NASA's 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 radar instrument was built by JPL and the Italian Space Agency, working with team members from the United States and several European countries.
For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission, visit http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/home/index.cfm.