A global detached haze layer and discrete cloud-like features high above Titan's northern terminator (day-night transition) are visible in this close-up image acquired on October 24, 2004, as the Cassini spacecraft neared its first close encounter with Titan. This image is a colorized version of an ultraviolet image released on October 25, 2004 (PIA 06120). The haze has been given colors that are close to what the natural colors are believed to be. The view was also sharpened to enhance the structure in the discrete feature.
The image was acquired at a distance of about 1 million kilometers (621,371 miles) in a near ultraviolet filter that is sensitive to scattering by small particles. The Sun preferentially illuminates the southern hemisphere at this time; the north polar region is in darkness. The well-known global detached haze layer, hundreds of kilometers above Titan's surface, is produced by photochemical reactions and is visible as a thin ring of bright material around the entire planet. At the northern high-latitude edge of the image, additional striations are visible, caused by particulates that are high enough to be illuminated by the Sun even though the surface directly below is in darkness. These striations may simply be caused by a wave propagating through the detached haze, or they may be evidence of additional regional haze or cloud layers not present at other latitudes.
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 Science Mission Directorate, 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.