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A global detached haze layer and discrete cloud-like features are visible in this Cassini image acquired on October 24, 2004 as the Cassini spacecraft neared its first close encounter with Titan. The images shown here -- a full disk view of Titan and a close-up of the discrete features high above the northern terminator -- are colorized versions of the ultraviolet image (PIA 06120) released on October 25. The globe of Titan and the haze have been given colors that are close to what the natural colors are believed to be. The close-up view was also sharpened to enhance the structure in the discrete features.
The image was acquired at a distance of about one million kilometers in a near ultraviolet filter that is sensitive to scattering by small particles. The Sun preferentially illuminates the southern hemisphere at this time; the north polar region is in darkness. The well-known global detached haze layer, hundreds of kilometers above Titan's surface, is visible as a thin ring of bright material around the entire planet produced by photochemical reactions. At the northern high-latitude edge of the image, additional striations are visible, caused by particulates that are high enough to be illuminated by the Sun even though the surface directly below is in darkness. These striations may simply be caused by wave perturbations propagating through the detached haze, or they may be evidence of additional regional haze or cloud layers not present at other latitudes.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The imaging team consists of scientists from the US, England, France, and Germany. The imaging operations center and team lead (Dr. C. Porco) are based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.