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Emily LakdawallaMay 19, 2006

Cassini RADAR images of the surface of Titan

Since the last Titan flyby on April 30, the Cassini RADAR team has been releasing quite a large number of pieces of the swath to the Web, and then they topped it off with a nice long piece of the middle of the swath from the last flyby. I spoke with RADAR team member Ralph Lorenz yesterday about the latest RADAR imaging and am working on a detailed story, but today I spent much of the day trying to figure out where on Titan all these bits and pieces of RADAR images came from. I've put together a new page for the Saturn section: "Cassini RADAR images of the surface of Titan." The page includes the complete Ta and T3 swaths, the first to have been released to the scientific community via NASA's Planetary Data System.

The new page also includes my attempts at reconstructing where all of the little bits of publicly released images from subsequent flybys fit on the map. Just for grins, here are those attempts. You can see that nearly all of T8 -- the one containing the Huygens landing site -- has been released publicly; about half of T7; and about a third of T13. I'm not going to finish writing up my notes from my chat with Ralph today -- hopefully I'll be able to do that on Monday.

Cassini RADAR swath on Titan, flyby T7, September 7, 2005

NASA / JPL-Caltech

Cassini RADAR swath on Titan, flyby T7, September 7, 2005
Cassini acquired about half of the planned RADAR swath on the September 7, 2005 flyby, covering a region from 30 to about 65 degrees south and from 30 through 0 to about 345 degrees west. It contains lots of apparently fluvial features. This image shows the approximate relative locations of the segments of the swath released to the public to date. The full swath should be released to the Planetary Data System in July 2006.
Cassini RADAR swath on Titan, flyby T8, October 28, 2005

NASA / JPL-Caltech

Cassini RADAR swath on Titan, flyby T8, October 28, 2005
The October 28, 2005 flyby covered a region just south of the equator from about 190 degrees through about 320 degrees west. The easternmost end of the swath covered the Huygens landing site. The center section includes large regions of "cat scratches" or longitudinal sand dunes. The eastern part contains many linear ridges, not yet seen elsewhere on Titan. This image shows the approximate locations of the pieces of the swath that have been released to the public to date. The full swath should be released in October 2006.
Cassini RADAR swath on Titan, flyby T13, April 30, 2006 [DEPRECATED]

NASA / JPL-Caltech

Cassini RADAR swath on Titan, flyby T13, April 30, 2006 [DEPRECATED]
The April 30, 2006 RADAR swath on Titan covered a region just south of the equator, complementary to the region sampled in the previous flyby (T8, October 28, 2005). It subtends about 120 degrees of longitude, from about 40 to about 160 degrees west. The western end covers an area that has been studied in depth with the optical remote sensing instruments, including Shikoku Facula ("Great Britain"), part of Kerguelen Facula, and the doughnut-shaped Guabonito crater. The rest of the swath covers the bright region of Xanadu. Xanadu contains rough terrain dissected by channels, as well as some possible impact craters. This image shows the approximate locations of all of the pieces of the swath that have been released to the public to date. The full swath should be released in April 2007.

By the way, Cassini's zooming in for yet another Titan flyby today! It's currently about 13 hours from closest approach on a flyby that mostly involves studies of the atmosphere, with imaging of the "limb" (the edge of the disk) and radio science.

Read more: pretty pictures, Cassini, Titan, Saturn's moons, radar imaging

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Emily Lakdawalla

Senior Editor and Planetary Evangelist for The Planetary Society
Read more articles by Emily Lakdawalla

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