ESA Science & Technology04-Jul-2005 07:22:58
 

Surface

Last Update:  18 May 2005

Until the Cassini-Huygens mission little was known of the surface of Titan. The handful of Voyager images revealed little, as they were unable to penetrate the thick, smothering atmosphere. In the 1990's a series of images acquired with the Hubble Space Telescope at infrared wavelengths revealed some differences in the surface.

HST images of Titan showing  several surface  features

More recently images from the Cassini spacecraft have advanced our understanding and the Huygens probe itself will hopefully reveal new information on the nature of the surface.

Solid or Liquid?

This is the unanswered question about Titan's surface. The latest images from Cassini suggest that the surface is largely solid, but could pockets of liquid ethane and methand exist?

The images also suggest a relatively young surface with no obvious craters. However, the exact nature of that activity, whether tectonic, wind-blown, fluvial, marine or volcanic is still to be determined.

Composite Image of Titan, NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

 



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