NOV 11, 2015 11:53 AM PST

NASA's Cassini Mission Finds Titan's Southern Winters Are Harsh

NASA’s Cassini Solstice Mission has uncovered a lot of details about Saturn and its surrounding moons, but one thing that scientists have been eye-balling for some time is the way that one of Saturn's moons, Titan, seems to have incredibly harsh Southern Winters that aren't as intense in the Northern region of the moon.
 
In fact, the Southern Winters are so serious that “monstrous” clouds of frozen compounds are actually forming in the moon’s South polar region. NASA says that the particular frozen clouds they’ve been observing since 2012 are filled with traces of frozen nitrogen, carbon, and hydrogen.
 
In 2012, NASA captured the following image with Cassini, which shows a large cloud on Titan. NASA says that underneath this large cloud, the frozen icy clouds exist:
 


NASA observes these clouds with an instrument aboard the Cassini spacecraft called the composite infrared spectrometer, or CIRS for short. Through it’s observations, NASA says that the clouds have a density very similar to fog here on Earth, so it’s not a very thin cloud by any means.
 
“When we looked at the infrared data, this ice cloud stood out like nothing we’ve ever seen before,” said Carrie Anderson of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “It practically smacked us in the face.”
 
What’s more is NASA says that the clouds they’re observing on Titan are created in a completely different way than clouds are formed here on Earth. Instead of rising to the top of the atmosphere where they’ll condense, Titan’s clouds, which are made of various gasses, will actually fall lower, closer to the surface, where they will begin to create gassy cloud layers before they begin to freeze.
 
From what we can tell, these icy clouds on the surface of Titan show that the moon has very aggressive Southern Winter. Northern Winters isn’t anywhere near as intense as the Southern Winters on Titan. Scientists estimate that the temperatures in the South pole of Titan get down to as low as -238º Fahrenheit.

Source: NASA

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
AUG 28, 2018
Space & Astronomy
AUG 28, 2018
Mars Has Huge Mountains, But How Did it Get Them?
Mount Everest, which sports a height of approximately 29,000 feet, is the tallest mountain on Earth. But if you were to venture to Mars, you’d find s...
AUG 29, 2018
Space & Astronomy
AUG 29, 2018
Ever Wonder How Long it Takes to Get to Mars? Watch This
Sending missions to Mars isn’t as easy as it may seem at first glance. The solar system is continuously shifting as planets orbit the Sun, so it&rsqu...
OCT 21, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 21, 2018
Classifying Oumuamua Proves More Challenging Than Initially Thought
It was almost one full year ago that an unforeseen interstellar object whizzed through the solar system. Immediately after the epic event, curious astronom...
OCT 28, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 28, 2018
Hayabusa2 Scientists Prepare to Collect Asteroid Samples and Return Them to Earth
Near the end of September, JAXA’s Hayabusa2 mission deployed two bouncing rovers on the surface of asteroid 162173 Ryugu to capture photographs and s...
OCT 28, 2018
Space & Astronomy
OCT 28, 2018
How NASA's Apollo Program Changed Spaceflight Forever
NASA’s Apollo program trekked carefully along the dangerous line separating risk from reward, and as it would seem, the American space agency may hav...
NOV 06, 2018
Space & Astronomy
NOV 06, 2018
Here's Where NASA Will Land its Martian InSight Mission Later This Month
In May, an Atlas V rocket blasted off from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base and lofted NASA’s InSight mission into space so that it could...
Loading Comments...