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Atom & Cosmos

How the moon got its water, plus more in this week’s news

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3:47pm, February 8, 2011

Titan’s cirrus clouds
The Cassini spacecraft has measured the abundance and composition of wispy clouds high in the smoggy atmosphere of Saturn’s frigid moon Titan. The cirruslike ice clouds, which Cassini finds throughout the atmosphere, can be used to trace the changing abundance of icy particles — nitrites and hydrocarbons — at different altitudes and with Titan’s seasons, Carrie Anderson of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and Robert Samuelson of the University of Maryland in College Park report in an upcoming Icarus. For instance, because gas moves from warmer to colder regions, the wintry northern hemisphere now harbors more ice clouds than the south. —Ron Cowen

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