NASA Image Of The Day

Specular Spectacular
NASA Image Of The Day
This near-infrared, color mosaic from NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows the sun glinting off of Titan's north polar seas. While Cassini has captured, separately, views of the polar seas (see PIA17470) and the sun glinting off of them (see PIA12481 and PIA18433) in the past, this is the first time both have been seen together in the same view. The sunglint, also called a specular reflection, is the bright area near the 11 o'clock position at upper left. This mirror-like reflection, known as the specular point, is in the south of Titan's largest sea, Kraken Mare, just north of an island archipelago separating two separate parts of the sea. This particular sunglint was so bright as to saturate the detector of Cassini's Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) instrument, which captures the view. It is also the sunglint seen with the highest observation elevation so far -- the sun was a full 40 degrees above the horizon as seen from Kraken Mare at this time -- much higher than the 22 degrees seen in PIA18433. Because it was so bright, this glint was visible through the haze at much lower wavelengths than before, down to 1.3 microns. The southern portion of Kraken Mare (the area surrounding the specular feature toward upper left) displays a "bathtub ring" -- a bright margin of evaporate deposits -- which indicates that the sea was larger at some point in the past and has become smaller due to evaporation. The deposits are material left behind after the methane & ethane liquid evaporates, somewhat akin to the saline crust on a salt flat. The highest resolution data from this flyby -- the area seen immediately to the right of the sunglint -- cover the labyrinth of channels that connect Kraken Mare to another large sea, Ligeia Mare. Ligeia Mare itself is partially covered in its northern reaches by a bright, arrow-shaped complex of clouds. The clouds are made of liquid methane droplets, and could be actively refilling the lakes with rainfall. The view was acquired during Cassini's August 21, 2014, flyby of Titan, also referred to as "T104" by the Cassini team. The view contains real color information, although it is not the natural color the human eye would see. Here, red in the image corresponds to 5.0 microns, green to 2.0 microns, and blue to 1.3 microns. These wavelengths correspond to atmospheric windows through which Titan's surface is visible. The unaided human eye would see nothing but haze, as in PIA12528. The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The VIMS team is based at the University of Arizona in Tucson. More information about Cassini is available at http://www.nasa.gov/cassini and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona/University of Idaho...
31 Oct 2014
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1 Expedition 42/43 - Qualification Training Simulation Runs at Star City, Russia Administrator 2
2 Expedition 41 - Space Station Live - October 30 Administrator 52
3 Expedition 41 - Space Station Live - October 29 Administrator 68
4 Expedition 41 - Progress M-25M/57 Docking Administrator 127
5 Expedition 41 - Progress M-25M/57 Launch Administrator 127
6 NASA News Conference on Orbital Mishap Administrator 257
7 Orbital Sciences/Cygnus CRS-3 Launch Administrator 503
8 Expedition 41 - Space Station Live - October 28 Administrator 43
9 Video B-Roll of Orbital Sciences/Cygnus CRS-3 Processing Administrator 121
10 Expedition 41 - Space Station Live - October 27 Administrator 45
11 Expedition 41 - Progress M-24M/56 Undocking Administrator 80
12 Orbital CRS-3 Mission Science Cargo Overview Briefing Administrator 108
13 Orbital CRS-3 Prelaunch News Conference Administrator 101
14 SpaceX/Dragon CRS-4 - Release from the ISS Administrator 165
15 Expedition 41 - Space Station Live - October 24 Administrator 43
16 "Vital Signs: Taking the Pulse of Our Planet" at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum Administrator 83
17 Expedition 41 - Space Station Live - October 23 Administrator 91
18 Expedition 41 - Russian spacewalk 40 - October 22 Administrator 204
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22 Expedition 41 - Space Station Live - October 16 Administrator 118
23 Expedition-41 - US Spacewalk (EVA-28) - October 15 Administrator 292
24 Expedition 41 - Space Station Live - October 14 Administrator 136
25 NASA Science Briefing - Comet Siding Spring Administrator 196
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27 Expedition 41 - Space Station Live - October 9 Administrator 141
28 NASA Teleconference - NuSTAR Discovery Administrator 200
29 Expedition 41 - Space Station Live - October 8 Administrator 135
30 Expedition-41 - US Spacewalk (EVA-27) - October 7 Administrator 433
31 Expedition 41 - Space Station Live - October 6 Administrator 134
32 Expedition 41 - U.S. Spacewalk Overview 28 Administrator 256
33 Expedition 41 - U.S. Spacewalk Overview 27 Administrator 264
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35 Expedition 41 - Space Station Live - October 3 Administrator 186
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40 Expedition 41 - Space Station Live - September 26 Administrator 208
41 Expedition 41/42 Soyuz TMA-14M - Hatch Opening and Other Activities Administrator 429
42 Expedition 41/42 Soyuz TMA-14M - Docking Administrator 347
43 Expedition 41/42 Soyuz TMA-14M - Launch Replays Administrator 226
44 Expedition 41/42 Soyuz TMA-14M - Launch Administrator 239
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48 Expedition 41 - Space Station Live - September 24 Administrator 254
49 Expedition 41/42 - Soyuz TMA-14M Spacecraft Rollout to the Launch Pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Administrator 190
50 Expedition 41 - Space Station Live - September 23 Administrator 96
 
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