We present a first high contrast 1.575 micron surface map of Titan, that is haze corrected by simultaneously imaging the stratospheric layer. At visible and most near-infrared wavelengths, the methane rich atmosphere completely obscures the surface; only in a few narrow wavelength windows does the atmosphere become optically thin. One of the most convenient windows (Griffith et al. 2003) lies at 1.58 μm, adjacent to the methane absorption feature at 1.62 μm. Our data span seven consecutive nights, resulting in phase coverage of 275° in longitude. The images were taken with NAOS-CONICA adaptive optics system at the VLT, using the recently commissioned Simultaneous Differential Imager mode (SDI). The combination of adaptive optics and simultaneous imaging through three filters sampling the methane absorption at 1.6 micron reveals extraordinary details of Titan's surface. Providing views of Titan's surface at high resolution (60 mas) is of particular topical importance, since the Cassini-Huygens mission is currently approaching the Saturn system and the Huygens probe will enter Titan's atmosphere in early 2005.
- Infrared: solar system
- Instrumentation: adaptive optics
- Planets and satellites: individual: Titan
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science