Titan in visible light (left) and newly mapped in infrared (right), with its atmosphere removed.
Saturn’s largest moon Titan boasts the distinction of being the only moon in the solar system to have a thick atmosphere…so thick, in fact, that its surface is perpetually hidden from our view—but not from the view of the Cassini spacecraft’s infrared cameras!
Cassini, now over ten months gone after its Sept. 2017 plunge into Saturn, spent thirteen years in orbit around Saturn and during that time used its VIMS (Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer, run by the University of Arizona) instrument during over 100 close passes by Titan, penetrating its optically-opaque cloud cover and gathering data on its surface features.
Researchers have now taken that data and created an all new, near-seamless global map of Titan, making the best-yet “naked” view of the cloud-shrouded moon. (Don’t worry, it’s still SFW.)
These six infrared images of Saturn’s moon Titan represent some of the clearest, most seamless-looking global views of the icy moon’s surface produced so far. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Nantes/University of Arizona)
Previous IR and synthetic-aperture radar maps of Titan were made from data acquired in relatively small sections at a time over the course of ...