Cassini looks down onto Titan’s north pole, its camera revealing the high-level atmospheric haze that encircles the 3,200-mile-wide moon.
This image was shot in visible violet light on March 27, 2009, using Cassini’s wide-angle camera. The spacecraft was 122,000 miles away from Titan at the time.
The sunlit part of Titan is the side that faces away from Saturn.
Titan’s haze layer is made up of complex hydrocarbons, created by the breakdown of methane and hydrogen by sunlight. It extends the atmosphere of the moon to a thickness ten times that of Earth’s. For more information on Titan and its unique atmosphere, click here.
The Cassini spacecraft has just completed its most recent flyby of Titan, “buzzing” the moon at an altitude of 2016 miles traveling at 13,000 mph (that’s 3.6 miles/second!). These flybys will give us a much better look at the composition of Titan’s atmosphere, as well as the chance to map the moon’s surface features beneath the clouds and search for lightning events. View the official Flyby Page for more info.
Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute