Cassini imaging of Titan's high-latitude lakes, clouds, and south-polar surface changes

E. P. Turtle, J. E. Perry, A. S. McEwen, A. D. DelGenio, J. Barbara, R. A. West, D. D. Dawson, C. C. Porco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

151 Scopus citations


Cassini's Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS) has been observing Titan since April 2004, compiling a nearly global surface map and monitoring the surface and atmosphere for activity. Early images of the south-polar region revealed numerous dark surface features and contemporaneous convective cloud systems, suggesting the presence of hydrocarbon lakes similar to those later detected at Titan's North Pole. Intriguingly, repeated south-polar imaging by ISS revealed differences consistent with ponding of hydrocarbon liquids on the surface due to precipitation from a large storm. More recent ISS images of high northern latitudes illustrate the full extents (>500,000 km2) of hydrocarbon seas, sections of which have been observed by Cassini's RADAR. These observations demonstrate dynamic processes at work on Titan and that the poles harbor liquid-hydrocarbon reservoirs, the extents of which differ from pole to pole and which may be coupled to seasonally varying circulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL02204
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 28 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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