- Specular Spectacular
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
Author Archives: Thor
The boys and girls at Ranger Up, have come up with a new video that points to something that we have all struggled with in our lives. I think it is worth the time to watch, and a good reminder … Continue reading
31 years ago today, we woke up to the fact that over 200 of my fellow Marines were killed by a truck bomb. A truck bomb…now we have the “fancy” term Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED). In accordance with … Continue reading
There seems to be a lot going on in the world recently. We could spend hours talking about the Bergdahl swap, or Hillary’s comments regarding domestic terrorists, or Obama’s non-comments about anything meaningful. What does Cantor’s loss in the Virginia … Continue reading
It is commencement time in the US. Every year, speakers have an opportunity to bore the audiences with an inspirational / educational message at higher education establishments across the nation. An exception to the rule this year seems to be … Continue reading
NY Times, bestselling author Larry Correia put together one of those “tough” messages today on the realities of life. This one was prompted by current events in Nigeria and Hollywood. It’s worth 10 minutes of your time to read it. … Continue reading
A little long video below but, nice illustration of common failures in your situational awareness.
At the risk of being politically incorrect, which is ok by me, here is your laugh for this morning.
Great article up today at Straight Forward. Observation, Decision and Action all turn into an incident where everyone goes home in one piece. Straight Forward in a Crooked World: Carjack Intermezzo. Often, it is the little things that can have … Continue reading
…For something completely different. With all the foriegn policy and economic missteps taking place out there to throw a layer of gloom over your day let’s take five minutes to brighten up your day, acoustically.