Welcome to Titan
Titan´s remoteness makes it easy to forget that it isn´t one place but many... We just haven´t seen these places yet. I wanted to get an experience of Titan as the huge, varied world it obviously must be - and that is exactly what the Postcards AddOn is about.

Postcards from Titan is actually two separate AddOns: there is the lighter "realistic" version, and the full "conceptual" one. This guide assumes you have the full version, and all images are actual screenshots from this. Note that clicking on any image opens a full-sized screenshot, while clicking on the caption text opens the location in Celestia.
  • The light version uses a Virtual Texture i built on top of Dr. Fridger Schrempps exellent Titan maps, which is the most accurate ones available. Of course the hi-res landscape at the Huygens landing site is fictional, but that is the only liberty i have taken. Everything else is real.

  • The full version on the other hand, is a conceptual model. I have painted the maps by hand - every single pixel comes out of a brush, not from a camera. Of course i could have just "filled in the blanks", but felt this would not work: i wanted a crystal clear model of an entire world. This means accuracy has been sacrificed for an overall more detailed, but purely "artistic" interpretation. It includes very high resolution Virtual Textures, localized weather, and 3D landscape models for several unique locations.

  • Both versions contains the full Cassini/Huygens mission, by courtesy of jestr. The Cassini trajectory is updated to reflect the course change in april 2005. The Huygens flight path is modified slightly so that it now actually intersects the landing coordinates. Additionally, the full version also features a concept model for the proposed Titan Organics Explorer mission ("Wish you were here") that hopefully will get under way some eight years from now...
Cassini
Cassini encounter with Titan, 31. march 2005 at 22:20:33



The faces of Titan

To create the surface maps i had to make a lot of assumptions. Some - probably most - are guaranteed to be proven false any day now, either through my own ignorance, by new data, or both...

First of all, i have depicted the dark areas as lowlands, with no liquid surfaces. Also, to me, admittedly as a layman, the bright stuff looks like it actually grew on top of the dark. I have treated it like it were gigantic glaciers.

I have assumed that the "blurry patches", the areas we only have very low resolution imagery from, or no images at all, were shaped by the same processes as the ones we can see properly. So, i have drawn them in generally the same way, with similar kinds of detail. Here´s the result:

face1 face1 face1 face1 face1 Titan
The rotated globe: the first two from the left is the same view with and without clouds (click for detail)



The land

The surface of Titan
Eroded hills of dirty ice
From space, the surface of Titan shows great variety, and i have tried to reflect this in the surface models and textures. The three locations i have chosen - The Huygens landing site, a spot northeast on Xanadu, and a spot close to the South pole, are very different in nature: eroded hills of dirty ice, a desert-like and wind-blown plain, a methane sea...



The atmosphere

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The Sun as seen from Titan´s surface
Despite it´s heavy atmosphere, Titan turns out to have very little clouds. So the cloudmap is primarily used to deepen the haze, exept for some formations at the South pole.

Some detail is painted in to keep it from looking entirely bland. For dramatic effect i have also made the map slightly transparent; one can just make out the contours of the land, and the Sun is barely visible from the surface.

To see this at all, one has to turn down ambient lightning and set Celestia´s preferences to render stars as scaled discs (left).
Clouds in Titans atmosphere
Clouds above the South pole
While the Titan sky is relatively featureless in general, the South pole is a different matter: we have images of cloud formations there. So, in at least one location, the sky should look more interesting. There, i made a sky that changes with time, showing everything from the empty sky to dramatic cloudscapes...

Note: it is possible to get "localized" weather on all locations in Postcards by opening the Solar System Catalog (ssc) file and remove the comment tags where indicated.
 

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