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Picture of the week: Titan’s hydrocarbon seas

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

As NASA's Cassini spacecraft passed Saturn's moon Titan, it recently caught a glimpse of bright sunlight reflecting off hydrocarbon seas.

In the past, Cassini had captured, separately, views of the polar seas and the sun glinting off them, however this is the first time both have been seen together in the same view.

The 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.

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 and ethane liquid evaporates.

The view was acquired during Cassini's flyby of Titan on 21 August 2014.

Source: NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, CIT.

Edited by Katie Woodward

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