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Oozing across Titan?


This synthetic aperture radar image of the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan was taken on 26 October 2004, when the NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens spacecraft flew about 2500 kilometres above the surface and acquired radar data for the first time.

Radar image of Titan’s surface

The radar illumination was from the south: dark regions may represent areas that are smooth, made of radar-absorbing materials, or are sloped away from the direction of illumination.

A striking bright feature stretches from upper left to lower right across this image, with connected ’arms’ to the east. The fact that the lower (southern) edges of the features are brighter is consistent with the structure being raised above the relatively featureless darker background.

Comparisons with other features and data from other instruments will help to determine whether this is a ’cryovolcanic’ flow, where water-rich liquid has welled up from Titan’s warm interior.

The image covers an area about 150 kilometres square, and is centred at about 45 degrees north, 30 degrees west in the northern hemisphere of Titan, over a region that has not yet been imaged optically. The smallest details seen on the image are around one kilometre across.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a co-operative project of NASA, ESA and ASI, the Italian space agency.

Guido de Marchi | EurekAlert!
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