Amazing Satellite Photography
December 16, 2012
... but not from Earth. This photo has been doing the rounds of the (astronomy) news sites, but it simply is too good not to mention it here. The Cassini mission has spotted this likeliness of the Nile river on Titan.
In this radar picture you see a meandering "river" that gives into a sort of "sea". This being Titan, it does not consist of water. There is no water to begin with, and it's definitely too cold for it to flow there. According to the press release by NASA, it probably consists of a mixture of ethane and methane, the presence of the former already confirmed by the Huygens probe that landed in 2008. We know it flows as it shows up as dark in the radar image, indicating a smooth surface.
This is just an amazing image. I'm not strictly speaking about discovering a river on another planetary body, although it sure gives pause to think. To me, it's about the fact that we can build a spacecraft, send it to Saturn, steer it into orbit and land at the same time a probe, and have this enormous return of data and nice pictures for over five years (and counting).
Also, the instrument used is a collaboration between NASA and ESA, especially the Italian Space Agency, and as such it is a clear example of what we, as a human species, can achieve by using science and technology and working together. Simply amazing.
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