As it approached Titan for yet another revealing encounter, the Cassini spacecraft acquired this image showing terrain on the moon's Saturn-facing hemisphere.
Prominent dark areas found in the moon's equatorial region appear to contain vast and continuous dune fields, discovered by the Cassini Radar experiment and likely composed of particles that drop from Titan's unique, smoggy atmosphere. The dark regions seen here are provisionally named Aaru and Senkyo (at right), with parts of western Fensal and Aztlan showing at left, near the terminator.
Titan is 5,150 kilometers (3,200 miles) across.
The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of infrared light centered at 752 nanometers. The view was obtained on July 2, 2006 at a distance of approximately 163,000 kilometers (101,000 miles) from Titan and at a Sun-Titan-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 62 degrees. Image scale is 19 kilometers (12 miles) per pixel.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.
Credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute