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Since I've been on a Cassini kick lately, what with all those new images of Saturn's moon Iapetus coming in, why not take a look at one of the largest moons in the Solar System, Titan? It's bigger than our Moon, bigger even than Pluto and Mercury, and it's the only world other than Earth that has an atmosphere and open oceans (sure, they're hydrocarbon seas, but that's even cooler).

Here's a photographic essay from Cassini/Huygens from orbit around the world through Huygens' descent through the clouds and some photos from the surface. Let's explore an alien world!

This first image reveals Titan's surface; Cassini's infrared camera can penetrate some of Titan's clouds. Light and dark regions in the upper left are mysterious types of surface terrain:

This image shows Titan with its atmosphere stripped away (again using infrared imagery):

Here we see Titan's north pole showing a bright spot in infrared:

Now we watch the Huygens probe descending through Titan's atmosphere to the surface:

Here's a photo from Huygens during its descent at an altitude of 10km:

And finally a shot from the surface. This is an alien world, close-up:

Click the images to see the story.

Oh, and for a really neat multimedia exploration, check out NASA's Titan movie




( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 21st, 2007 06:46 pm (UTC)
You should move back here and teach science - you have such a way of inspiring enthusiasm and curiosity about this stuff!
Sep. 21st, 2007 07:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you! Y'know, I'd love to teach astronomy, and in fact started college with astronomy as my aim. But alas, I'd have to get myself a PhD to do so. *sigh*

I'll have to settle with owning an astronomy retreat center one day.
(Deleted comment)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )