Picture of the Day: Saturn's Moon, Titan, Passes by the Planet's Rings

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Huygens_surface_color_sr.jpgNASA's Cassini spacecraft took this true-color image of Titan, the largest of Saturn's 53 moons, as it passed in front of the planet and its rings. The rings appear as a thin band, and their striped shadows encircle the planet's face. Titan is swathed in a dense, hazy atmosphere that obscures its surface to telescopes and cameras. In late 2004, Cassini broke apart from the Huygens probe, which landed on Titan's surface in early January of 2005 -- the only landing ever accomplished in the outer solar system. For 90 minutes after moonfall, Huygens collected and transmitted data to Cassini, including, at right, an image of Titan's surface. The above picture was taken by Cassini on May 21, 2011, from a distance of approximately 1.4 million miles from Titan.

Below, recent Pictures of the Day:



Images: 1. NASA; 2. Wikimedia Commons.

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Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Business Channel. She was previously an associate editor at The Wilson Quarterly.

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