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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

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Revealing Titan
Hugh Bollinger

Revealing Titan

Six Infrared Images of Titan (credit: Cassini Mission, JPL)

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory has released the most detailed images of Saturn's giant moon Titan yet. According to JPL,

"the six infrared images of Titan represent the clearest, most seamless-looking views of the icy moon's surface produced so far. They were created using 13 years of Cassini mapping data acquired by the VIMS instrument (Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer) carried by Cassini. Observing the surface of Titan in visible light is difficult because of Titan's globe-enshrouding haze. But the moon's surface can be imaged in infrared (IR) scans. The Cassini imager removed the haze to obtain these clear images of Titan's surface. The moon's equatorial dunes appear in brown colors while bluish and purplish areas may be water ice."

The images reveal that Titan has a complex surface with a myriad of geologic features. The IR images have paved the way for future Titan explorations in higher resolutions that could reveal even more landforms not detected by Cassini's cameras. JPL is considering a return to Saturn called the Titan-Saturn System Mission that would explore the moons Titan and Enceladus. If the program is approved, the spacecraft would carry two Titan probes: a balloon that would be carried along in Titan's clouds and a float-like lander that would splash down in one of the moon's hydrocarbon seas. The orbiter would continue gathering high-resolution infrared data of Titan and potentially "taste the water" from geysers erupting in the southern region smaller Enceladus.

A JPL animation describes potential plans for a first icy moons mission Jupiter to survey its moons.

This 'way, way, out there' exploration that excite everyone by what awaits discovery!


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