The Cassini spacecraft peers through Titan's thick clouds to spy on the region dubbed "Senkyo" by scientists. The dark features include vast fields of dunes, composed of solid hydrocarbon particles precipitated out of Titan's atmosphere. And Titan's southern pole is shrouded in the recently formed polar vortex.
Titan, Saturn's largest moon, is 3,200 miles (5,150 kilometers) across.
For more on Senkyo, see Saturn's View of Titan. For a color image of the south polar vortex on Titan, see Titan's Colorful South Polar Vortex. For a movie of the vortex, see Titan's South Polar Vortex in Motion.
Lit terrain seen here is on the Saturn-facing hemisphere of Titan. North on Titan is up and rotated 18 degrees to the right. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Jan. 5, 2013 using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 938 nanometers.
The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 750,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) from Titan and at a Sun-Titan-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 79 degrees. Image scale is 4 miles (7 kilometers) 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 in Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute