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Cassini Observes 'Summer' Methane Clouds on Saturn's Moon, Titan

Nov 08, 2016 09:41 AM EST
Cassini Spacecraft Reveals Titan Surface Details
NASA's Cassini spacecraft captured methane gas clouds formed and traveled across the surface of Saturn's moon, Titan.
(Photo : NASA via Getty Images)

Cassini's final year in observing the ringed planet Saturn and its moons has proven to be another colorful year. Recently, the spacecraft has seen the summer methane clouds on Saturn's moon Titan.

Titan is one of the most interesting Saturn satellite. It is said to have the right chemistry for life but more focused flyby should be done in order to prove the theory. Meanwhile, Cassini continues to observe the moon and has found some intriguing occurrence like the existence of summer methane clouds.

NASA Cassini observed gas clouds passing across the northern region of Titan on Oct. 29 and Oct. 30, 2016. Based on Cassini's observations, gas clouds started to form and then moved across the surface of Titan. The methane clouds can be seen crossing Saturn's moon in a timelapse video taken for a total of 11 hours.

The most visible part is the clouds within the 49 and 55 degrees north latitude, according to a report. These streaks of clouds prominently develop and fade unlike the consistent body of cloud that remained throughout the footage. The streaks of clouds were estimated to move at about 14 to 22 miles per hour.

There are also visible smaller groups of clouds over Neagh Lacus and Punga Mare that also fades within the footage. They move slower at about 0.7 to 1.4 miles per hour.

Scientists consider time-lapse movies like the latest one taken by Cassini as a vital tool in understanding objects in the Solar System. By looking at these movies, scientists can compare and identify clouds from the fog, cosmic rays and other noise on the images. This is a better way of conducting a study instead of looking at individual images.

Cassini is observing cloud movements on Saturn and its moon this 2016. Clouds are expected on Titan during summer based on Cassini's observations.  Cassini has already bagged some valuable contribution in understanding Saturn and its moons including several intriguing photographs of a deformed or bent Saturn rings and the Earth-like dunes found on Saturn's moon, Titan.


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