Sunglint on Titan

In early July, sunlight glimmers from a northern lake on Saturn's moon Titan

A month before the autumnal equinox heralded the advent of fall here in Earth’s northern hemisphere, Saturn’s moon Titan passed through its own vernal equinox, signaling the arrival of spring on its frigid surface. It was an event which planetary scientists had awaited since the interplanetary probe Cassini first entered Saturn orbit five years before.

The northern hemisphere of Titan, where most of the moon’s methane lakes are situated, has been locked in winter, its thick atmosphere enveloping the icy surface. Until now. As the angle of the sun’s rays arced more directly through the clouded skies of Titan’s northern climes in early July, sunlight glimmered from the shore of the Kraken Sea – a basin filled with hydrocarbons, larger than Earth’s largest lake, the Caspian Sea – and was captured by Cassini..

Aside from confirming our understanding of Titan’s surface lakes, this amazing image conveys the paradoxical reality of Titan, so radically different and yet so strangely similar to Earth.

For more, see NASA’s A Flash of Light from Titan.

Published in: on December 20, 2009 at 2:06 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. For more fascinating information on Titan’s atmosphere and hydrological cycle, see this post from Science Daily on Titanian fog.

  2. […] For additional perspectives on Titan, see our earlier posts Titan & Tethys and Sunglint on Titan. […]

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