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Astronomy Picture of the Day



It’s Raining on Titan
Illustration Credit & Copyright [2]: David A. Hardy (AstroArt [3])

Explanation: It’s been raining on Titan [4]. In fact, it’s likely been raining methane on Titan and that’s not an April Fools’ joke [5]. The almost familiar scene depicted in this artist’s vision of the surface of Saturn’s largest moon looks across an eroding landscape into a stormy sky. That scenario is consistent with seasonal rain storms [6] temporarily darkening Titan’s surface [7] along the moon’s equatorial regions, as seen by instruments onboard the Cassini spacecraft [8]. Of course on frigid Titan [9], with surface temperatures of about -290 degrees F (-180 degrees C), the cycle of evaporation, cloud formation, and rain involves liquid methane [10] instead of water. Lightning could [11] also be possible in Titan’s thick, nitrogen-rich atmosphere [12].



Visit the NASA/JPL website to view more Astronomy Pictures of the Day [13]