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U of I Scientists Help Snap New Photos of Saturn Moon

Starwatchers said the new images give clarification to how lakes may have formed and how Titan’s Earth-like hydrologic system involves hydrocarbons rather than water.

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A team of University of idaho scientists are part of a team of NASA researchers from throughout the nation, that reveled some out-of-this-word images Oct. 24: a new view of Titan, Saturn's moon.

A sun covered Titan, and a slight break in the usually haze filled sky, allowed NASA's Cassini spacecraft to obtain new pictures of the liquid methane and ethane seas and lakes on the moon’s north pole. Starwatchers said the new images give clarification to how lakes may have formed and how Titan’s Earth-like hydrologic system involves hydrocarbons rather than water.

University of Idaho Department of Physics associate professor Jason Barnes said that Cassini’s high resolution images and infrared mapping spectrometer gave researchers and scientists a much clearer view of a space that was previously too difficult to see.

The Cassini mission was launched in 1997, in NASA's partnership with the Italian Space Agency and the European Space Agency. Cassini has been exploring the Saturn system since 2004 and will continue before leaving its orbit in 2017. A full Saturn year is equivalent to 30 years on Earth.

The vast hydrocarbon seas and lakes (dark shapes) near the north pole of Saturns moon Titan sprawl out beneath the watchful eye of NASAs Cassini spacecraft.
  • NASA
  • The vast hydrocarbon seas and lakes (dark shapes) near the north pole of Saturn's moon Titan sprawl out beneath the watchful eye of NASA's Cassini spacecraft.