The Cassini spacecraft from NASA which is currently orbiting the ringed planet Saturn has observed clouds of Methane moving across the far northern areas of its moon Titan. Titan is the largest moon of Saturn. These images were captured in between October 29th and October 30th.
The movie, which is time lapse pictures which were taken every 20 minutes over a period of 11 hours by Cassini cameras. The clouds which occur in between 49 degrees and 55 degrees north latitude were most striking and prominent. The clouds move at a speed of 14 to 22 miles per hour. Most of the cloud streaks appear and then fade slowly.
Some clouds which were less prominent can be seen over the lakes further north and also includes a bright cloud in between Neagh Lacus and Punga Mare moving at an at a speed of1 to 2 meters per second. Titan is the only moon in the solar system which has big lakes. However, the lakes are not like the lakes on our home planet and are composed of Methane and ethane which occurs as a gas on Earth.
This kind of time lapse photography helps astronomers understand the dynamics of atmosphere or the surface of distant heavenly bodies. It also contributes to discern between noises in images which are caused by external radiations like galactic cosmic rays hitting the detector and faint clouds or fog.
Cassini has been observing the clouds for a long time. However, most of the pictures were taken at intervals which were days or even weeks apart. However, this is the first time that photos were taken at frequent and closely timed intervals making it easier for scientists to gauge the dynamics of these clouds.