Massive Vortex Discovered on Saturn’s Moon Titan

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is capturing stunning images of a high altitude vortex on the south pole of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.

Titan Storm
True color image captured by NASA’S Cassini spacecraft before a distant flyby of Saturn’s moon Titan on June 27, 2012 Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

When Cassini first arrived in the Saturn system in 2004, it observed a “hood” of high altitude haze and a swirling  gaseous vortex on Saturn’s north pole. In what appears to be a changing of the seasons, the vortex has shifted toward the southern pole of Titan.  According to a NASA press release “the structure inside the vortex is reminiscent of the open cellular convection that is often seen over Earth’s oceans,” said Tony Del Genio, a Cassini team member at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, N.Y. “But unlike on Earth, where such layers are just above the surface, this one is at very high altitude, maybe a response of Titan’s stratosphere to seasonal cooling as southern winter approaches. But so soon in the game, we’re not sure.”

Cassini’s visible light cameras saw the haze forming near the southern pole back in March. Using specialized infrared instruments abbreviated VIMs, it was able to capture false color images on  May 22 and June 7.

“VIMS has seen a concentration of aerosols forming about 200 miles [300 kilometers] above the surface of Titan’s south pole,” said Christophe Sotin, a VIMS team member at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. “We’ve never seen aerosols here at this level before, so we know this is something new.”

Below you can see an embedded video showing the rotation of the vortex.


Future observations will shed light on the composition of Titan’s atmosphere and the effects of seasonal change.  Titan is the only known satellite to have a dense atmosphere and is important for study as many feel it has all the makings to host life. For more information about Cassini’s mission to Saturn, visit

HTC Titan Announced; Sports a 4.7-inch S-LCD Screen!

Along with the HTC Radar, the Taiwanese company also announced a giant Windows Phone Mango based phone, the Titan. The Titan sports a 4.7-inch screen, with a disappointing WVGA (480×800) resolution screen. Like all other recent HTC handsets, the Titan also has a unibody aluminium design.

The handset is powered by a 1.5GHz single core processor from Snapdragon, and comes with 512MB of RAM and 16GB of on-board memory. The usual Wi-Fi b/g/n, GPS with A-GPS, Bluetooth 2.1, and sensors like Gyroscope, Proximity sensor and Ambient light sensors are also present.

The back of the HTC Titan sports an 8MP camera with a t/2.2 aperture, accompanied by dual-LED flash. The Titan is among the first Windows Phone to sport a front-facing camera. The handset is also capable of recording and playing back 720p HD videos.

Except for a faster processor and an improved GPU, the Titan is just another run-of-the-mill Windows Phone. The only major difference is that the handset runs on Mango right out of the box, while other WP7 handsets will get the update sometime this month.

Overall, the Titan lacks a lot of features, which is now a common place in the Android smartphone world, including HDMI out, microSD card slot, FM radio and 1080p video recording.

While the improved 8MP camera on the back and a front-facing camera in the front is a welcome addition, a dual-core processor and/or more internal memory would have been highly appreciated by Windows Phone users.