- 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
Category Archives: History
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
It has been 34 years since the fall of the US Embassy in Tehran. While that is an event that many of us have placed in the dustbins of history, we received a reminder of the event as “tens of … Continue reading
30 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
Technology is a wonderful thing, and people find the most creative ways to apply their tools. This article from the Business Insider, and the resulting re-touched photos is pretty amazing. Update: More photos. These are from China prior to the … Continue reading
June 6, 1944. 180,000 Allied troops. 50 miles of beaches, with tall cliffs, and heavily fortified positions. 5,000 ships 13,000 aircraft Focused on the goal of gaining a toehold in Northern Europe, liberating the continent, and defeating Nazi Germany. General … Continue reading
A reminder piece out of Fred Thompson’s new organization.
71 years ago today, the Imperial Japanese Navy launched waves of small propeller driven aircraft from ships in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. These aircraft swept down across the hills of Oahu and executed one of the most devastating surprise attacks in modern … Continue reading
Well, it appears as if there are some new developments going in on the Continent, that unfortunately appear to be old actions being resurrected for the 21st Century. Let’s take a look at the highlights of recent events: Greece continues to have widespread protests … Continue reading
An interesting snippet from Bill Whittle today, that brings us Rudyard Kipling’s wisdom and observations from 100 years ago. Take six minutes to watch.