Titan in Detail
New images of unsurpassed clarity have been obtained with the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) of formations on the surface of Titan, the largest moon in the Saturnian system. They were made by an international research team  during recent commissioning observations with the "Simultaneous Differential Imager (SDI)", a novel optical device, just installed at the NACO Adaptive Optics instrument.
The images show a number of surface regions with very different reflectivity. Of particular interest are several large "dark" areas of uniformly low reflectivity. One possible interpretation is that they represent huge surface reservoirs of liquid hydrocarbons.
These views of Titan, obtained on six nights in February 2004. At the right, the image from the first night (Feburary 1-2, 2004) has been enlarged for clarity and the coordinate grid on Titan is indicated. The images are false-colour renderings with the three SDI wavebands as red (1.575 ?m; surface), green (1.600 ?m; surface) and blue (1.625 ?m; atmosphere), respectively.
Image Credit: European Southern Observatory
Credit: European Southern Observatory