PIA14311: Circular Feature at Xanadu, Titan

Circular Feature at Xanadu, Titan


NASA's Cassini spacecraft obtained these false-color images of a circular feature in a region known as Xanadu on Saturn's moon Titan. The images, obtained by Cassini's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer, show Titan in infrared wavelengths of radiation.

The cause of this circular feature has been the subject of debate, but a group of Cassini scientists think a small asteroid or a comet could have caused an impact that excavated an enormous crater. There is very little topographical relief within the circular feature. Its center is slightly lower than the surrounding terrain, but there is otherwise noobvious evidence of the original crater's topography. A group of Cassini scientists argue that the circular feature seen in the infrared is basically a palimpsest, an object that has been altered but still bear traces of its earlier form. That is, these scientists argue, marks appear to show where the crater formed and where the ejected material was thrown, but the crater is so old that its walls and ejected material have eroded and viscously relaxed over time.

The image was obtained by the visual and infrared mapping spectrometer on April 30, 2006.

The image is centered at 10 degrees south latitude and 120 degrees west longitude. The VIMS team assigned the 1.6 micron wavelength of radiation a blue color, 2.0 microns a green color and around 5 microns a red color. The image on the right was heavily processed to bring out detail on the circular feature, with its outer edge indicated by whitearrows.

Background Info:

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency (ASI). NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate at the agency's headquarters in Washington. The Cassini orbiter was designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The visual and infrared mapping spectrometer was built by JPL, with a major contribution by ASI. The visual and infrared mapping spectrometer science team is based at the University of Arizona, Tucson. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission, visit http://www.nasa.gov/cassini and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/home/index.cfm .

Cataloging Keywords:

Name Value Additional Values
Target Titan Saturn
System Saturn Asteroid Belt
Target Type Satellite Asteroid, Comet, Planet
Mission Cassini-Huygens
Instrument Host Cassini Orbiter
Host Type Orbiter
Instrument Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS)
Extra Keywords Color, Crater, Infrared
Acquisition Date
Release Date 2011-07-14
Date in Caption 2006-04-30
Image Credit NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona
Source photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA14311
Identifier PIA14311