Titanic but short-lived dust storm on Titan

Enlarge / Some of the features of Titan’s atmosphere, like its polar vortex, can be seen with visible light. (credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

Weather prediction is a tricky business. And it’s even more difficult when you only have a single deceased orbiter to get your data from. This week, via a ouija board, the Cassini probe tells us of dust storms on Titan.

Cassini had a couple of imaging spectrometers on board. These created pictures of Titan, with each pixel in the image telling us something about the materials in the atmosphere and on the ground within the region covered by the pixel. In 2009 and 2010, during the equinox, Cassini observed a sudden and short-lived brightening on Titan.

The brightening was not visible to the naked eye. Instead, it was mostly visible in the infrared (a wavelength longer than we can see). What could have caused it?

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