Icy clouds over Titan’s south pole hint that fall has come

Apr 12, 2013
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Icy clouds over Titan’s south pole hint that fall has come

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has beamed back some very interesting images of Saturn's largest moon Titan. The images were sent back by the Cassini spacecraft and show that an icy cloud is beginning to grow over the south pole of the moon. NASA says that that icy cloud indicates that fall has begun on Titan's southern hemisphere.

Scientists and researchers don't know what the cloud is made up of, but a similar cloud has been dissipating over Titan's north pole where springtime has begun. The NASA researchers associate the cloud forming over the southern pole of the moon with winter weather. NASA says that the interesting thing about the cloud forming over the south pole is that this is the first time this sort of cloud has been detected anywhere other than the north pole of the moon.

Titan is very interesting to astronomers and scientists, it is the second largest moon in the entire solar system. Titan is also the only moon that has clouds and a dense atmosphere similar to a planet. Observations made by the Cassini spacecraft have noted that warmer air from the southern hemisphere of the moon rises into the atmosphere and then gets dumped on the moon's North pole.

As that air descends from high in the atmosphere to the North pole of Titan it cools and forms the icy cloud. While here on earth we get several seasons in a single calendar year, Titan has a much longer seasonal pattern. The north pole of Titan begin transitioning from winter to spring in August of 2009. However, the first signs of the ice cloud in the southern hemisphere weren't spotted until July of 2012. While scientists don't know what the clouds on Titan are made from, they do know a few things the cloud cover isn't made from. Scientists have ruled out chemicals such as methane, ethane, and hydrogen cyanide.

[via Space.com]


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