See beautiful Ontario Lacus!

Using radar data from the Cassini spacecraft’s flybys on June 22, 2009, July 8, 2009, and Jan. 12, 2010, Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have produced this animated flyover of a potential future holiday destination – the lakes of Titan.  Just don’t forget to pack the thermal underwear…  Video credit: JPL News

From the JPL press release

Ontario Lacus, the largest lake in the southern hemisphere of Saturn’s moon Titan, turns out to be a perfect exotic vacation spot, provided you can handle the frosty, subzero temperatures and enjoy soaking in liquid hydrocarbon.

Several recent papers by scientists working with NASA’s Cassini spacecraft describe evidence of beaches for sunbathing in Titan’s low light, sheltered bays for mooring boats, and pretty deltas for wading out in the shallows. They also describe seasonal changes in the lake’s size and depth, giving vacationers an opportunity to visit over and over without seeing the same lake twice. (Travel agents, of course, will have to help you figure out how to breathe in an atmosphere devoid of oxygen.)

And in this second video, Steve Wall, deputy team lead for the Cassini radar team, explains how comparable features in Death Valley help the team to decypher what they’ve observed on Titan.

“With such frigid temperatures and meager sunlight, you wouldn’t think Titan has a lot in common with our own Earth,” said Steve Wall, deputy team lead for the Cassini radar team, based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “But Titan continues to surprise us with activity and seasonal processes that look marvelously, eerily familiar.”