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Sci-Tech

See dramatic clouds streak across Saturn's moon Titan

Saturn's biggest moon shows off its exotic bands of clouds in a new Cassini image taken during the spacecraft's mission finale.

Enhance! NASA serves up two looks at the same Titan image.


NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

The Cassinis spacecraft's farewell tour of Saturn may be focused on the strangely empty space between the planet and its rings, but it's still taking time to do some local sightseeing. Cassini snapped this image of Saturn's largest moon Titan on May 7 from a distance of 303,000 miles (488,000 kilometers) away.

The bright streaks are methane clouds, while the darker splotches seen toward the top are the moon's fascinating hydrocarbon lakes. NASA released two versions of the image on Tuesday with different levels of enhancement. One makes the bands and seas really pop out, while the other offers a softer, more ethereal view of the same scene.

The Cassini mission, which launched in 1997, is scheduled to end in September when the spacecraft will destroy itself in Saturn's atmosphere.

Cassini is a joint project from NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The probe is currently engaged in an ongoing series of dives that take it between Saturn and the rings as part of its mission "grand finale."