Mapping Titan's surface features within the visible spectrum via Cassini VIMS

Graham Vixie, Jason W. Barnes, Jacob Bow, Stéphane Le Mouélic, Sébastien Rodriguez, Robert H. Brown, Priscilla Cerroni, Federico Tosi, Bonnie Buratti, Christophe Sotin, Gianrico Filacchione, Fabrizio Capaccioni, Angioletta Coradini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Titan shows its surface through many methane windows in the 15 μm region. Windows at shorter wavelengths also exist, polluted by scattering off of atmospheric haze that reduces the surface contrast. At visible wavelengths, the surface of Titan has been observed by Voyager I, the Hubble Space Telescope, and ground-based telescopes. We present here global surface mapping of Titan using the visible wavelength channels from Cassini's Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS). We show global maps in each of the VIMS-V channels extending from 0.35 to 1.05 μm. We find methane windows at 0.637, 0.681, 0.754, 0.827, 0.937, and 1.046μm and apply an RGB color scheme to the 0.754, 0.827 and 0.937μm windows to search for surface albedo variations. Our results show that Titan appears gray at visible wavelengths; hence scattering albedo is a good approximation of the Bond albedo. Maps of this genre have already been made and published using the infrared channels of VIMS. Ours are the first global maps of Titan shortward of 0.938μm. We compare the older IR maps to the new VIMS-V maps to constrain surface composition. For instance Tui Regio and Hotei Regio, referred to as 5μm bright spots in previous papers, do not distinguish themselves at all visible wavelengths. The distinction between the dune areas and the bright albedo spots, however, such as the difference between Xanadu and Senkyo, is easily discernible. We employ an empirically derived algorithm to remove haze layers from Titan, revealing a better look at the surface contrast.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)52-61
Number of pages10
JournalPlanetary and Space Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012


  • Cassini VIMS
  • Optical wavelength
  • Surface
  • Titan
  • Visible imaging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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