Huge vortex seen churning around Titan’s south pole

True colour image of the atmospheric vortex swirling around Titan’s south pole. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / Space Science Institute

Like Earth, Saturn’s moon Titan has weather – rain (liquid methane) and wind have created the surface we see today, which resembles that of our own planet, with sand dunes, rivers, lakes and seas. Titan is a very active place, although you may not know it just looking at it from space; a perpetual smog-like haze, made of organic compunds, surrounds the moon, blocking our view of the surface. In general this haze is very bland-looking, making Titan resemble a featureless, orange-ish ping-pong ball.

But at times, Titan’s weather processes are in full view. The Cassini spacecraft has just sent back some amazing new images, taken on June 27, 2012, which show an amazing phenomenon – a huge, swirling vortex high up in the atmosphere, rotating around Titan’s south pole (see here for video clip).

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