Titan (Cassini Image)

Titan (Cassini Image)

In the true color photo above which taken on May 21, 2011, the colorful globe of Titan passes in front of Saturn and its rings. The north polar hood can be seen on Titan and appears as a detached layer at the top of the moon here. This view looks toward the northern, sunlit side of the rings from just above the ring plane. Images taken using red, green and blue spectral filters were combined to create this natural color view. The images were obtained with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera.

Titan is the only moon known to have a dense atmosphere, and the only object in space other than Earth where clear evidence of stable bodies of surface liquid has been found. Many of the gases that make up Titan’s brown haze were hydrocarbons, theoretically formed via the recombination of radicals created by the Sun’s ultraviolet photolysis of methane.

Titan is primarily composed of water ice and rocky material. Its climate, including wind and rain, creates surface features similar to those of Earth, such as dunes, rivers, lakes, seas (probably of liquid methane and ethane), and deltas, and is dominated by seasonal weather patterns as on Earth. With its liquids (both surface and subsurface) and robust nitrogen atmosphere, Titan’s methane cycle is analogous to Earth’s water cycle, at the much lower temperature of about 94 K (−179.2 °C).

Image source: NASA

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