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Glint of Sunlight Confirms Liquid in Northern Lake District of Titan

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posted on Dec, 18 2009 @ 12:44 AM
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PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Cassini Spacecraft has captured the first flash of sunlight reflected off a lake on Saturn's moon Titan, confirming the presence of liquid on the part of the moon dotted with many large, lake-shaped basins.

Cassini scientists had been looking for the glint, also known as a specular reflection, since the spacecraft began orbiting Saturn in 2004. But Titan's northern hemisphere, which has more lakes than the southern hemisphere, has been veiled in winter darkness. The sun only began to directly illuminate the northern lakes recently as it approached the equinox of August 2009, the start of spring in the northern hemisphere. Titan's hazy atmosphere also blocked out reflections of sunlight in most wavelengths. This serendipitous image was captured on July 8, 2009, using Cassini's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer.

"This one image communicates so much about Titan -- thick atmosphere, surface lakes and an otherworldliness," said Bob Pappalardo, Cassini project scientist, based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "It's an unsettling combination of strangeness yet similarity to Earth. This picture is one of Cassini's iconic images."

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Simply amazing isn't it?

See the full image & caption

[edit on 18-12-2009 by Enceladus]




posted on Dec, 18 2009 @ 12:53 AM
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The editing option seems to be in trouble i guess:

Just wanna add the image

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posted on Dec, 18 2009 @ 11:54 AM
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I had just come to ATS to post the article!

But yes, it's an amazing amazing discovery. As the article says, one of Cassini's iconic images, and I personally believe it is a broadly scientifically iconic image.

Cassini/Huygens has been my favorite mission since I started following it around 2004 when I was 14 and I went to a science center in pittsburgh and watched a show on the mission. When I went to DC last spring to see some of the museums, the Cassini Huygens model made my day. I originally just wanted a picture of Hubble, but seeing Cassini there was unexpected and amazing.

Anyway, enough about me. Just showing my love for Cassini!

I guess this picture kinda throws a wrench in Keymaster's idea that our trillions of dollars are being wasted on utterly useless images.



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