Spying on Senkyo

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

The Cassini spacecraft peers through Titan’s thick clouds to spy on the region dubbed “Senkyo” by scientists. The dark features include vast fields of dunes, composed of solid hydrocarbon particles precipitated out of Titan’s atmosphere. And Titan’s southern pole is shrouded in the recently formed polar vortex.

Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, is 3,200 miles (5,150 kilometers) across.

For more on Senkyo, see PIA08231. For a color image of the south polar vortex on Titan, see PIA14919. For a movie of the vortex, see PIA14920.

Lit terrain seen here is on the Saturn-facing hemisphere of Titan. North on Titan is up and rotated 18 degrees to the right. The image was taken with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Jan. 5, 2013, using a spectral filter sensitive to wavelengths of near-infrared light centered at 938 nanometers.

The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 750,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) from Titan and at a Sun-Titan-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 79 degrees. Image scale is 4 miles (7 kilometers) per pixel.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed, and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov . The Cassini imaging team homepage is at http://ciclops.org

This story originally appeared on NASA: Spying on Senkyo


  1. This is most definitely NOT the time for the administration to propose cutting the planetary science budget. We need to restore the TiME mission to explore the liquid hydrocarbon rivers and oceans of Titan.

  2. Karol: You are absolutely correct. We must press on for the amazing discoveries that await us. TiME will make those discoveries and open up the whole arena of astrobiology to a new generation of scientists and explorers.

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