The visual and infrared mapping spectrometer on NASA's Cassini spacecraft recorded these infrared images of Titan's northern hemisphere.
The images show the reflection of sunlight on Titan's atmosphere at 2.8 microns, longer wavelengths than human eyes can detect. The image appears in false color so that the highest reflection appears as a reddish hue. The vast ethane cloud can be seen in all images as a reddish band just north of 50 degrees latitude. The top of the image in panel D also shows a strong reflection off the limb of the planet (also reddish), which is caused by the lighting angle and does not indicate the presence of clouds.
Image (A) was taken on Dec. 13, 2004; image (B) on Aug. 22, 2005; image (C) on Aug. 21, 2005; and image (D) on Sept. 7, 2005.
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 was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer team is based at the University of Arizona where this image was produced.
For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/home/index.cfm . The visual and infrared mapping spectrometer team homepage is at http://wwwvims.lpl.arizona.edu.
Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona