Astronomy Picture of the Day
September 14, 2012

Kraken Mare
Kraken Mare

Credits: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute - Credits for the additional process. and color.: Dr Paolo C. Fienga/Lunar Explorer Italia/IPF

The NASA - Cassini Spacecraft looks toward Saturn's largest moon, Titan, and spies the huge, Northern Kraken Mare, a large Sea of Liquid Hydrocarbons that is clearly visible as a dark area near the top of the image. Out of curiosity, if full, the Kraken Mare, at about 400.000 square Kilometers (such as approx. 248.400 square miles), would be almost 5 (five) times the size of the North American Lake Superior.
Several observations carried out by the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft have shown that huge Cloud Fronts keep moving above the large Methane Lakes and Seas which are located near the Planet's North Pole. These (most likely) Methane Clouds are all flowing in the Troposphere (such as the lowest part of the Atmosphere) of Titan, they have always shown a white color and they have also been seen moving East.

The darkest areas visible on and near the North Pole of Titan, as we said, are huge Lakes and Seas of Liquid Methane, and they were all easy to identify because they show a very low albedo (remember that the differences in brightness on the Surface indicate a difference in its composition). Furthermore, the Clouds usually seen near the Northern Lakes and Seas suggest that Titan may possess what we call "Lake-effect Clouds", such as Clouds created by Weather Systems that form and move over large bodies of liquid. However, even if these Clouds were not directly connected to the Titanian Lakes and Seas, scientists think that frequent detections of Clouds at High Northern Latitudes since the AD 2007, have to be related to the abundant availability of Surfacing Methane almost all over the Region.

This view looks toward the Saturn-facing Side of Titan. North is up and rotated 29° to the left. The frame was taken with the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Sept. 14, 2011 using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of Near-InfraRed Light centered at 938 nanometers. The view was acquired at a distance of approx. 1,2 Million Miles (such as about 1,9 Million Kilometers) from Titan and at a Sun-Titan-Spacecraft, or Phase, Angle of 26°. Image scale is roughly 7 miles (approx. 12 Km) per pixel.

This frame has been additionally processed and then colorized, according to an informed speculation carried out by Dr Paolo C. Fienga (LXTT-IPF), in Absolute Natural Colors (such as the colors that a human eye would actually perceive if someone were onboard the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft and then looked outside, towards the Saturnian moon Titan), by using an original technique created - and, in time, dramatically improved - by the Lunar Explorer Italia Team. Different colors, as well as different shades of the same color, mean, among others, the existence of different Elements present on the Surface of Titan, each having a different Albedo (---> Reflectivity) and Chemical Composition.

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