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Technical Achievement Awards

Two Views of Titan's Topography
To create the first global, topographic map of Saturn's moon Titan, scientists analyzed data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft and a mathematical process called splining. This method effectively uses smooth curved surfaces to "join" the areas between grids of existing topography profiles obtained by Cassini's radar instrument. In the upper panel of this graphic, gold colors show where radar images have been obtained over almost half of Titan's surface, laid over a (blue toned) near-global map of infrared color from the Cassini visual and infrared mapping spectrometer instrument. Within the gold images, narrow strips of rainbow colors show where height data have been obtained. The lower panel shows the new topography map, with contour lines spaced 656 feet (200 meters) apart in elevation that were added to facilitate interpretation of the data. South polar depressions and four mountains are notably prominent; a dark region at 50–65 degrees south latitude and 0–60 degrees east longitude coincides with a major depression.

The radar and VIMS data were obtained from 2004 to 2011.

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Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASI/JHUAPL/Cornell/Weizmann

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