Astronomy Picture of the Day
December 2, 2012

Closing-up on Titan
Closing-up on Titan

Credits: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona - Credits for the additional process. and color.: Dr Paolo C. Fienga/Lunar Explorer Italia/IPF

This image, taken by the NASA - CASSINI Spacecraft at a distance of apporx. 15.000 Km (such as about 9300 miles) from Titan, shows us an area of its Surface that appears riddled by Mountain Ranges that were probably produced, considering their shapes and heights, by the action of Tectonic Forces. On the top left corner of the frame, there is an almost Circular Feature which could be (actually, there is no way to be sure) one of the very few Impact Craters that can be found on Titan, while near the bottom of the image, a band of bright and thin Bluish Clouds can be seen.


NASA Scientists believe that these Clouds were probably produced when the Gaseous Methane that is present in the Titanian Atmosphere cooled and condensed into some sort of Methane Fog, which was afterwards lifted-up and then carried away by the Winds that were driving the Air towards and over the Mountains; however, the possibility that such Linear Clouds might (even partially) be made of Water Ice Particles, in our opinion, as IPF, cannot be excluded at this time yet. It was once thought that these recurring Clouds might have been produced by Volcanic Activity, but this image calls that idea into question (and, as a matter of fact, it seems, nowadays, that the only Volcanoes that may still be present - and active - on Titan are the so-called Cryo-Volcanoes, which are responsible for the eruption of Cold Materials, like Mud, Ice and other Gases - a phenomenon, this one, that is also known as "Cold Volcanism").


This view was obtained during the Fly-By of Titan that occurred on October, 25, 2006, and which was designed to obtain the Highest-Resolution InfraRed Views of Titan yet. Cassini's Visual and InfraRed Mapping Spectrometer resolved Surface Features as small as 400 meters (1300 feet). The image was taken at Wavelengths of 1,3 microns (blue), 2 microns (green), and 5 microns (red).


This picture (which is an Original NASA - Cassini Spacecraft color frame published on the NASA - Planetary Photojournal with the ID n. PIA 09033) has been additionally processed and then re-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 in the Atmosphere and Surface of Titan, each having a different Albedo (---> Reflectivity) and Chemical Composition.



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