28 December 2005

T9 / Titan's Halo

Cassini closed out its 2005 itinerary with another Titan fly-by on December 26th, marking its ninth close encounter with Saturn's largest and most enigmatic moon. The latest image released from this most recent rendezvous has just been posted, here. Meanwhile, the below image was just published today on NASA's Planetary Photojournal. Clicking the image will take you to the site and press release. It's a beaut. :-)


Image Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

With its thick, distended atmosphere, Titan's orange globe shines softly, encircled by a thin halo of purple light-scattering haze.

Images taken using blue, green and red spectral filters were used to create this enhanced-color view; the color images were combined with an ultraviolet view that makes the high-altitude, detached layer of haze visible. The ultraviolet part of the composite image was given a purplish hue to match the bluish-purple color of the upper atmospheric haze seen in visible light.

Small particles that populate high hazes in Titan's atmosphere scatter short wavelengths more efficiently than longer visible or infrared wavelengths, so the best possible observations of the detached layer are made in ultraviolet light.

The images in this view were taken by the Cassini narrow-angle camera on May 5, 2005, at a distance of approximately 1.4 million kilometers (900,000 miles) from Titan and at a sun-Titan-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 137 degrees. Image scale is 8 kilometers (5 miles) per pixel.


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