Cassini sees sunny seas on Titan

October 30, 2014 by Preston Dyches, NASA

This near-infrared, color mosaic from NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows the sun glinting off of Titan's north polar seas. While Cassini has captured, separately, views of the polar seas and the sun glinting off of them in the past, this is the first time both have been seen together in the same view. The sunglint, also called a specular reflection, is the bright area near the 11 o'clock position at upper left. This mirror-like reflection, known as the specular point, is in the south of Titan's largest sea, Kraken Mare, just north of an island archipelago separating two separate parts of the sea. This particular sunglint was so bright as to saturate the detector of Cassini's Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) instrument, which captures the view. It is also the sunglint seen with the highest observation elevation so far -- the sun was a full 40 degrees above the horizon as seen from Kraken Mare at this time -- much higher than the 22 degrees seen in PIA18433. Because it was so bright, this glint was visible through the haze at much lower wavelengths than before, down to 1.3 microns. The southern portion of Kraken Mare (the area surrounding the specular feature toward upper left) displays a "bathtub ring" -- a bright margin of evaporate deposits -- which indicates that the sea was larger at some point in the past and has become smaller due to evaporation. The deposits are material left behind after the methane & ethane liquid evaporates, somewhat akin to the saline crust on a salt flat. The highest resolution data from this flyby -- the area seen immediately to the right of the sunglint -- cover the labyrinth of channels that connect Kraken Mare to another large sea, Ligeia Mare. Ligeia Mare itself is partially covered in its northern reaches by a bright, arrow-shaped complex of clouds. The clouds are made of liquid methane droplets, and could be actively refilling the lakes with rainfall. The view was acquired during Cassini's August 21, 2014, flyby of Titan, also referred to as "T104" by the Cassini team. The view contains real color information, although it is not the natural color the human eye would see. Here, red in the image corresponds to 5.0 microns, green to 2.0 microns, and blue to 1.3 microns. These wavelengths correspond to atmospheric windows through which Titan's surface is visible. The unaided human eye would see nothing but haze. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/University of Idaho
(Phys.org) —As it soared past Saturn's large moon Titan recently, NASA's Cassini spacecraft caught a glimpse of bright sunlight reflecting off hydrocarbon seas.

In the past, Cassini had captured, separately, views of the and the sun glinting off them, but this is the first time both have been seen together in the same view.

Also in the image:

— An arrow-shaped complex of bright methane clouds hovers near Titan's north pole. The clouds could be actively refilling the lakes with rainfall.

— A "bathtub ring," or bright margin, around Kraken Mare—the sea containing the reflected sunglint—indicates that the sea was larger at some point, but evaporation has decreased its size.

Titan's seas are mostly liquid methane and ethane. Before Cassini's arrival at Saturn, scientists suspected that Titan might have bodies of open liquid on its surface. Cassini found only great fields of sand dunes near the equator and lower latitudes, but located lakes and seas near the poles, particularly in the north.

The new view shows Titan in infrared light. It was obtained by Cassini's Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) on Aug. 21.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The VIMS team is based at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Explore further: Saturn-circling Cassini spacecraft plumbs Titan's seas next week

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31 comments

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SciTechdude
5 / 5 (8) Oct 30, 2014
Moon lakes, that's a crazy thing. Why aren't we sending a probe to land here instead of Mars? Seems far more interesting.
Stavanger
4.6 / 5 (8) Oct 30, 2014
Moon lakes, that's a crazy thing. Why aren't we sending a probe to land here instead of Mars? Seems far more interesting.

Far more expensive and difficult too.
HannesAlfven
1 / 5 (14) Oct 31, 2014
Reflection does not equal fluid. They are ignoring the fact that we have incredibly large fields of glass here on Earth -- e.g., the Edeowie and Lybian Desert Glass fields. Also, the Moon is littered with glass shards. And glass is common in interstellar space as well.

Papers have been written about these terrestrial glass fields, and one of the key characteristics is the widespread presence of fulgurites -- which are known to result from lightning strikes -- as well as -- in both instances -- no sign of any impact crater. The Libyan Desert Glass is actually far too pure to be the result of a cosmic impact.

The incredibly smooth radar image on these "lakes" suggests that they are not lakes at all, and I have to think that they actually have sufficiently detailed data in hand to confirm this by now.
TechnoCreed
4.8 / 5 (12) Oct 31, 2014
Moon lakes, that's a crazy thing. Why aren't we sending a probe to land here instead of Mars? Seems far more interesting.
Far more expensive and difficult too.
As a matter of fact we already went there. http://en.wikiped...cecraft)
TechnoCreed
5 / 5 (5) Oct 31, 2014
@FineStructureConstant
Would you please care not to quote ananities. It is so easy to put the deranged on ignore and have sane discussions now.
paul_cherubini_3
1 / 5 (18) Oct 31, 2014
NASA has no credibility so all this earth-like talk about "lakes" "seas" "sand dunes" is just the brainwashing dept of the agency doing a number on us to seduce us taxpayers into funding further space travel
ScottyB
5 / 5 (6) Oct 31, 2014
There is already a probe on Titan mate!

they have no credibility.,... Ohhhh dear oh dear
HannesAlfven
2.7 / 5 (7) Oct 31, 2014
I don't think that people here fully grasp the point of spending hundreds of millions of dollars to visit these planets. Whether you like the conclusions or not is completely irrelevant; the point of these missions is to ask questions which have the potential to undermine the textbook theory.

If, when we look at an anomalous observation, and simply decide that it is unimportant, and maybe even just ignore it, then why did we bother to go there at all? To get the pretty pictures? If we want, we can look up what we imagine these worlds to look like based upon the textbook theory, and draw the pretty pictures in Photoshop -- and it would cost far less.
TechnoCreed
5 / 5 (6) Oct 31, 2014
@paul_cherubini_3
Well done paul you are just another idiot on my ignore list.
barakn
3.9 / 5 (8) Oct 31, 2014
The incredibly smooth radar image on these "lakes" suggests that they are not lakes at all, and I have to think that they actually have sufficiently detailed data in hand to confirm this by now.
As I pointed it out to you on March 20 here: http://phys.org/n...oth.html , we already have that data and it proves you wrong. I know you have a terrible memory for things that don't validate your world view, but please stop spouting this debunked nonsense.
TechnoCreed
4.5 / 5 (4) Oct 31, 2014
@barakn
Please stop bothering about schizophrenics; use the ignore button.
rhsthjnty
5 / 5 (7) Oct 31, 2014
If anyone is interested in the ongoing, launched in 1997!, Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn.

http://sci.esa.in...huygens/
barakn
4 / 5 (8) Oct 31, 2014
@barakn
Please stop bothering about schizophrenics; use the ignore button.

Don't tell me what to do. I do what I do so that first time or infrequent visitors to the site, especially those with little science experience, will see rebuttals to troll and crackpot arguments. A lack of retorts to their stream of crap could be misconstrued as approval of these loony tunes.

The Ignore button is what lazy site admins add when they don't want to enforce their own rules and guidelines.
TechnoCreed
5 / 5 (3) Oct 31, 2014
P.S. -but shirley you mean "inanities"?
Thank you for helping me with my limited English but let me reassure you; this one was a typo.
TechnoCreed
4.3 / 5 (3) Oct 31, 2014
I do what I do so that first time or infrequent visitors to the site, especially those with little science experience, will see rebuttals to troll and crackpot arguments. A lack of retorts to their stream of crap could be misconstrued as approval of these loony tunes.
The Ignore button is what lazy site admins add when they don't want to enforce their own rules and guidelines.
Infrequent! Sure... For the moment, there is still very little interesting talk to enjoy on Phys.org and I did not try to have or to engage one either; too much background noise. You can always choose to converse with schizoids but I doubt that you will find any satisfaction into that.
As for the ignore button, It is a fannntassstic tool. I am not here to argue with idiots anyway. What I understand is that PO accepted to be the trash bin of science, so be it; everybody can freely express themselves and I feel totally comfortable to ignore them because they have zero influence in the science world.

Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (7) Oct 31, 2014
@TechnoCreed
Would you please care not to quote ananities. It is so easy to put the deranged on ignore and have sane discussions now
Uh-huh, okey-dokey. Will do. Over and out.

P.S. -but shirley you mean "inanities"?

Don't call him Shirley...
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (4) Oct 31, 2014
And....
Sunny seas? Shouldn't it be sunny skies with the seas REFLECTING?
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (3) Oct 31, 2014
Reflection does not equal fluid. They are ignoring the fact that we have incredibly large fields of glass here on Earth -- e.g., the Edeowie and Lybian Desert Glass fields. Also, the Moon is littered with glass shards. And glass is common in interstellar space as well.

If I'm not mistaken... isn't glass considered a fluid?
antigoracle
3.7 / 5 (6) Oct 31, 2014
Far more expensive and difficult too.

I have no problem spending money on probes to the outer planets, all except Uranus, that's just going too far.
[Ok...ok.. I'll show myself out]
Psilly_T
3.4 / 5 (5) Oct 31, 2014
What I understand is that PO accepted to be the trash bin of science, so be it; everybody can freely express themselves and I feel totally comfortable to ignore them because they have zero influence in the science world.


I hardly believe that ignoring a problem can make it go away, even loons. You say it has zero influence on the science world yet politics(a haven of loons and those with ears sensitive to loons) are able to hold back copious amounts of money from legitimate areas we humans should be throwing money at. If you just ignore them.... isn't that like ignoring a smokers cough?
But i do understand you are very tired of the nonsense and don't blame you. I like reading some of those comments for fun laughs, personally, but they do get old fast.
TechnoCreed
5 / 5 (3) Oct 31, 2014
I hardly believe that ignoring a problem can make it go away, even loons. You say it has zero influence on the science world yet politics(a haven of loons and those with ears sensitive to loons) are able to hold back copious amounts of money from legitimate areas we humans should be throwing money at.
Exactly what problem are you talking about? Science has no electorate to answer to and, as far as I know, knowledge and progress only took one direction and it is straight forward. It does not matter how hard religions and ideologies try to bend it, the laws of nature will not budge.
EnricM
5 / 5 (4) Nov 01, 2014
NASA has no credibility so all this earth-like talk about "lakes" "seas" "sand dunes" is just the brainwashing dept of the agency doing a number on us to seduce us taxpayers into funding further space travel


Yes, they do it because they want to take your guns away and chemtrail the hell out of you to brainwash you and make you believe that bigfoot does not exist. Basterds.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (3) Nov 01, 2014
This particular sunglint was so bright as to saturate the detector of Cassini's Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) instrument, which captures the view. It is also the sunglint seen with the highest observation elevation so far -- the sun was a full 40 degrees above the horizon as seen from Kraken Mare at this time -- much higher than the 22 degrees seen in PIA18433.


That's quite the sunglint, then there's the bright "arrow-shaped" clouds to the right. Maybe there are processes going on here that are being misinterpreted.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (5) Nov 02, 2014
The Ignore button is what lazy site admins add when they don't want to enforce their own rules and guidelines
I completely agree with this!

I've pushed for MODS to actually do their job a lot in the past 8 months, with repeated appeals to have them select from the posters who are knowledgeable as volunteer mods without needing to pay out financial compensation

instead we get the ignore button and now the TROLLS run rampant with wild accusations and more pseudoscience than an eu/daw/aw/alien/anti-agw/NSA conspiracy seminar

worse even than the self titled "creation science" movement, which is noted for having NO SCIENCE
https://en.wikipe...Arkansas
at least someone in Arkansas has the ability to discern the difference!

Don't call him Shirley
@W_Gyre
airplane
nice!
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (4) Nov 02, 2014
Science has no electorate to answer to and, as far as I know, knowledge and progress only took one direction and it is straight forward
@Techno
not answering FOR Psilly_T but i would like to throw my 2 cents in on this

this can actually be seen in climate science and the way the media is used to continue the fallacies behind the science

if you look only at the science, you would have to be a complete moron with their head stuck up the rear-end and no flashlight to believe there is no AGW, or that the science is wrong, and yet the media gives equal time to dissenting positions
why?

politics is one reason, and faith based conjecture is another...money and conspiracy is a third

http://arstechnic...nformed/
http://phys.org/n...ate.html
http://phys.org/n...firstCmt

yet they still offer lies equal time
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (5) Nov 02, 2014
It does not matter how hard religions and ideologies try to bend it, the laws of nature will not budge.
@Techno
continued from above
and then we have the creationist movement, supported here by viko, jvk and verkle, etc

if there was nothing to it, and it was all about science and reality, there would not still be movements to put creationist BS in our schools (and the schools that have it would not be open long)

it all has to start somewhere

If we can show where certain fallacious arguments are blatant lies, like eu, aw/daw and the creationists, then we serve the side of science
I am not saying everyone must do this, just that there are people who DO try to keep pseudoscience out in their own realm where they belong

Since the site mods will not actively enforce their site rules, then it falls upon the posters to point out the BS to the nooB's

You both have great reasons for using ignore or not using it

i would actually prefer better moderation, myself
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (4) Nov 02, 2014

and then we have the creationist movement, supported here by viko, jvk and verkle, etc

if there was nothing to it, and it was all about science and reality, there would not still be movements to put creationist BS in our schools (and the schools that have it would not be open long)

it all has to start somewhere

If we can show where certain fallacious arguments are blatant lies, like eu, aw/daw and the creationists, then we serve the side of science
I am not saying everyone must do this, just that there are people who DO try to keep pseudoscience out in their own realm where they belong

Since the site mods will not actively enforce their site rules, then it falls upon the posters to point out the BS to the nooB's

You both have great reasons for using ignore or not using it

i would actually prefer better moderation, myself

And you've been reported for three consecutive off topic posts.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (4) Nov 02, 2014
And you've been reported for three consecutive off topic posts.
TROLLING
BAITING
reported

topic is proposed in the above conversation: therefore asked and answered

the above posters are irritated at the continued off topic postings by eu acoltyes and their lack of empirical evidence

there is no pseudoscience in the answer
there is nothing considered not factual either
and my preferences were clearly stated

The links are valid and represent the fallacies used when OT pseudoscience posters like eu and others post and therefore relevant, as it goes to awareness and argument

unlike when you continually post electric universe (eu) garbage and consider it science when it has been publicly debunked and proven false as well as blatant pseudoscience!
like so http://www.tim-th...sun.html

and the other arguments are also posted here: http://phys.org/n...oth.html

another eu epic failure
TechnoCreed
5 / 5 (1) Nov 02, 2014
Stumpy, you know that I have a lot of respect for you. But frankly, I come on Phys.org because I like to be up to date about what is happening in the sphere of science and technology no more, no less. When I started commenting on PO I was expecting to find other people that were passionate about many subjects related to that. Sure there are some of them but, to my absolute dismay, the majority of comments posted here are politically driven, faith driven or pure fringe lunacy. Sorry but I do not care about them.
TechnoCreed
5 / 5 (1) Nov 02, 2014
Although my presence as a comment poster is recent, I am sorry to have witnessed good persons deciding to stop commenting on PO because of this absolutely detestable fact. Now everybody has an option; IGNORE THEM and they hate that because they want a public. It is absolutely enjoyable to be able to press this button that says 'hey I do not care about what you have to say' and that is the power that I have now. Think about that, you are here on commenting on PO without returner, RC, reg mundy, zephyr, the EU gang, the political gang... what a relief.
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (3) Nov 03, 2014
I like to be up to date about what is happening in the sphere of science and technology no more, no less
@TechnoCreed
Thanks, Techno... I hope i don't interfere with that

i simply dislike pseudoscience
especially since i am trying to learn about the real thing

that and i look at how the pseudoscience negatively affects my grandchildren and i feel obligated to do something about it... to at least make sure science has the same representation as the crackpots do

I respect your opinion a great deal, Techno, so don't think i am saying you are wrong or anything of the sort

i guess i am justifying to myself my refusal to use the ignore feature

especially when there are already refutes proving eu wrong here: http://phys.org/n...oth.html

also: a lot of my posts are because of the study i am working with
collecting data regarding pseudoscience and their thought processes, etc
fun, fun

PEACE

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