Sunlight Reflection Spotted on Titan

Nasa announced yesterday that the Cassini spacecraft has managed to take a picture of the sunlight reflecting off one of the lakes on Titan.

Titan of course is the largest of Saturn’s moons and it is also the only moon in our solar system which has an atmosphere. Titan is also the only other object apart from Earth which has been found to contain liquid lakes.

Titan (Click to Enlarge)

The lakes on Titan are mostly gathered in the northern hemisphere of the Moon. Normally this hemisphere is covered in darkness so seeing a reflection like this one back in July 09 is a special event.

Scientists have already located the source of this reflection…. a lake bed called Kraken Mare which is about 400,000 kilometres in size. These lakes do not hold water, but are lakes of liquid methane.

I have put together a picture above to illustrate what the Cassini spacecraft may have seen while on it’s orbit around Saturn. The picture is not totally accurate but hopefully gives an idea of the event which took place.

I believe that prior to this week the only evidence of liquid methane on Titan were from infrared pictures taken in 2008.

Now we have the sun’s reflection giving us proof positive of their existence.

~ by sydneystargazers on December 19, 2009.

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