Sunday, February 27, 2005

Titan's Cloud-Free Skies Continue

Titan on February 25
A group of astronomers at the Keck Telescope on Hawaii's Big Island led by Antonin Bouchez captured this image of Titan using a filter sensitive to infrared light at around 2 microns, a relatively "clear" methane window. Keck images of Titan this year have generally shown a cloud-free atmosphere. Clouds during this time of Titan's year are generally focused in the southern polar latitudes between 70S and 90S and in the southern mid-latitudes near 40S. However, lately, fewer and fewer clouds have been seen. Only a couple of small south polar clouds were seen during the T3 flyby by Cassini. It is still unclear whether we are just getting unlucky lately in trying to look for clouds or whether Titan is in the middle of somekind of seasonal climate change as Titan approaches the August 3, 2009 vernal equinox.

On a sidenote, Cassini observed Titan in the clear filter at around this same time.

Update: I should have made it clear that this image was taken on February 25.


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