Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2000 August 20
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.

The Surface of Titan
Credit: Athena Coustenis (DESPA) et al., PUEO, CFHT

Explanation: If sailing the hydrocarbon seas of Titan, beware of gasoline rain. Such might be a travel advisory issued one future day for adventurers visiting Titan, the largest moon of Saturn. New images of Titan's surface were released last week from the Canada-France Hawaii Telescope featuring the finest details yet resolved. Peering into Titan's thick smog atmosphere with infrared light, complex features interpreted as oceans, glaciers, and rock became visible. The high-resolution infrared image pictured above was made possible using an unblurring technique called adaptive optics. The interplanetary probe Cassini will reach Saturn and Titan in 2004 to better explore this unusual world.

Tomorrow's picture: A Perseid Aurora

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.