This global digital map of Saturn's moon Titan was created using images taken by the Cassini spacecraft's imaging science subsystem.
The images were taken using a filter centered at 938 nanometers, allowing researchers to examine variations in albedo (or inherent brightness) across the surface of Titan. Because of the scattering of light by Titan's dense atmosphere, no topographic shading is visible in these images.
The map is an equidistant projection and has a scale of 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) per pixel. Actual resolution varies greatly across the map, with the best coverage (close to the map scale) near the center and edges of the map and the worst coverage on the leading hemisphere (centered around 120 degrees west longitude).
Imaging coverage in the northern polar region continues to improve as Titan approaches northern vernal equinox in August 2009 and the north pole comes out of shadow. Large dark areas, strongly suspected to be liquid-hydrocarbon-filled lakes, have been documented at high latitudes (see Maps of Titan - January 2009).
The mean radius of Titan used for projection of this map is 2,575 kilometers (1,600 miles). Until a control network is created for Titan, the satellite is assumed to be spherical.
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