July 29, 2016
This synthetic-aperture radar image was obtained by NASA's Cassini spacecraft during its T-120 pass over Titan’s southern latitudes on June 7, 2016.
The area shown here measures about 40 by 60 miles (70 by 100 kilometers) and is centered at about 60 degrees south latitude, 130 degrees west longitude. Radar illuminates the scene from the left at a 28-degree incidence angle.
At the center of the image is a bright feature oriented from upper left to lower right. This is interpreted to be a long ridge with jagged peaks, likely created by methane rainfall erosion. Some of the individual peaks rise about 2,400 feet (800 meters) above the valley floor. The ridge has a considerably gentler slope on its left side (which appears brighter here) than on its right. Frequently, mountains shaped like this on Earth are fractured blocks of the planet's crust, thrusted upward and then tilted, creating a shallow slope on one side and a steeper slope on the fractured, faulted edge.
Also presented here is an annotated version of the image, along with a radar image of the Dragoon Mountains in Arizona just east of Tucson. The Dragoon feature represents a tilted fault block, formed by spreading that has occurred across the western U.S., and has a similar shape to that of the Titan ridge. The Dragoon radar image was produced using data from NASA's Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/NGA). Radar illuminates the scene from the left in that image as well.
Titan has displayed many features that are strikingly similar to Earth: lakes, seas, rivers, dunes and mountains. Scientists think it possible that, like Earth, the giant moon's crust has experienced familiar processes of uplift and spreading, followed by erosion.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA (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. 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.