Astronomy Picture of the Day
October 13, 2012

Northern Clouds on Titan
Northern Clouds on Titan

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

A bright streak of whitish Clouds graces the Northern Skies of the Saturnian moon Titan and this was the second time that the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft's imaging cameras spotted clouds at apporx. 60° of North Latitude (the previous occasion occurred during the observations that were carried out in the month of February of the AD 2007: observations which also led the cameras of the Spacecraft to spot the Dark Lakes - likely filled by Liquid Hydrocarbons - that cover much of the Northern Regions of this fascinating moon). The almost circular, and approx. 400-Kilometer wide Impact Crater Menrva can be seen near center, a little to the left of the Terminator. North on Titan (which, we remind you, is approx. 5150 Km - such about 3200 miles across) is up and rotated 26° to the right.

The image was taken with the NASA - Cassini Spacecraft Narrow-Angle Camera on January 20, 2008, using a combination of Spectral Filters sensitive to Wavelengths of Polarized InfraRed Light centered at 938 and 746 nanometers. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 1,3 MKM (---> Million KiloMeters), such as about 800.000 miles from Titan and at a Sun-Titan-Spacecraft, or Phase, Angle of 58°. Image scale is roughly 8 Km (a little more than 5 miles) per pixel. However, it has to be noted that, due to the scattering of light that is caused by the Titanian Hazy Atmosphere, the size of the Surface Features that can be seen and resolved, is a few times larger than the actual (and aforementioned) pixel scale.

This frame (which is an Original NASA - Cassini Spacecraft image published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 09846) has been additionally processed and then colorized 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 in the Atmosphere and Surface - where visible - of Titan, each having a different Albedo (---> Reflectivity) and Chemical Composition.

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