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NASA Releases Cassini’s Final View Of Titan’s ‘Land O’ Lakes’

16 Sep 2018, 17:46 UTC
NASA Releases Cassini’s  Final View Of Titan’s ‘Land O’ Lakes’
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During NASA’s Cassini mission’s final distant encounter with Saturn’s giant moon Titan, the spacecraft captured this view of the moon’s north polar landscape of lakes and seas, which are filled with liquid methane and ethane. NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI
A year ago on September 15, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft was deliberately plunged into Saturn’s atmosphere after orbiting the planet for 13 years. During its final distant encounter with Saturn’s giant moon Titan 4 days prior, Cassini captured this last photo of the moon’s north polar landscape of lakes and seas, which are filled with liquid methane and ethane. With surface temperatures of 292° below zero Fahrenheit, water on Titan is as hard as quartz while the hydrocarbons ethane, methane and propane, which have much lower freezing points, can pool into lakes and seas especially in the colder polar regions.
The photo, a mosaic of several images stitched together, was taken from a distance of 87,000 miles (140,000 km) using a filter sensitive to near-infrared light, which can penetrate the moon’s perpetually hazy, hydrocarbon-laden atmosphere. Punga Mare (pronounced MAH-ray) at 240 miles (390 km) across, Ligeia Mare (300 miles / 500 km) and the vast Kraken Mare, the largest sea on Titan, at 730 miles ...

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