This animated gif of the south polar region of Titan was acquired over an 11.5-hour period on Oct. 23, 2004, as the Cassini spacecraft approached its first close encounter with Saturn's smoggy moon. The images were acquired with a near-infrared filter, which sees through the Titan stratospheric haze and reveals surface and lower tropospheric features. Aside from the slow rotation of the planet, a prominent polar cloud field often observed in ground-based images can be seen to evolve over the 11.5-hour period. The cloud evolution is complex and appears to include a general diverging motion.
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 Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras, were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.