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Cassini's Final View of Titan's Northern Lakes and Seas

14 Sep 2018, 09:57 UTC
Cassini's Final View of Titan's Northern Lakes and Seas
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During NASA's Cassini mission's final distant encounter with Saturn's giant moon Titan, the spacecraft captured the enigmatic moon's north polar landscape of lakes and seas, which are filled with liquid methane and ethane. They were captured on Sept. 11, 2017. Four days later, Cassini was deliberately plunged into the atmosphere of Saturn.Punga Mare (240 miles, or 390 kilometers, across) is seen just above the center of the mosaic, with Ligeia Mare (300 miles, or 500 kilometers, wide) below center and the vast Kraken Mare stretching off 730 miles (1,200 kilometers) to the left of the mosaic. Titan's numerous smaller lakes can be seen around the seas and scattered around the right side of the mosaic. Among the ongoing mysteries about Titan is how these lakes are formed.Another mystery at Titan has been the weather. With its dense atmosphere, Titan has a methane cycle much like Earth's water cycle of evaporation, cloud formation, rainfall, surface runoff into rivers, and collection in lakes and seas. During Titan's southern summer, Cassini observed cloud activity over the south pole (see PIA06112 and PIA06109).However, typical of observations taken during northern spring and summer, the view here reveals only a few small clouds. They appear as ...

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