Analysis of the Titan Panorama,

Joseph W. Rudmin, Physics Dept., James Madison University,

 and Joseph D. Rudmin, ISAT, James Madison University

Jan 23, 2005

We will display each step of the analysis, which was performed with widely available software, so that anyone may duplicate it if they choose. We start with the panorama as taken from the NASA-Goddard Astronomy Picture of the Day website: 

Then drop it into MS Paint and reflect it left-to-right.    It then looks like this.

Now extract the middle of the picture:

We now notice that the picture has been badly pasted together.  The structures on the right, which are the source of the "smoke plume", are too far to the right.  We can see two structures which can be used to realign them.   This next picture, generated with MS Paint, shows this..

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Now use MS PhotoEd to cut the right hand part of the picture, expand it 20%,  and approximately overlay the duplicated scenery, and we get

Finally, compare it to the following map.

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And to this photo from


With the help of the map, we can now name the ships in the panorama. (Notice that the picture of "Titan" is a negative--the
ships are white, not black.)



In short, gentlemen, what is claimed to be a panorama of Titan, is in fact a collage made up from Japanese reconnaissance photos taken during the attack on Pearl Harbor, on Dec 7, 1941.

The only mystery now is "How did a photo of Pearl Harbor get into the Cassini?", and a related question, is "Cassini doesn't assemble collages.  Who made the collage, and where did he get his photos?" 

           This prank or slip up is of no lasting significance.  It was just one of those delightful distractions which gives us all a healthy chuckle, and harms no one.  Was it perhaps the photo which was sent to Cassini by Engineer Boris Smeds when he was working to correct the craft's telemetry? Or perhaps careless staff left the Cassini's hard drive unsecured and exposed to hacking by the notorious Cal Tech students. In any case, it's time for the source of this entertainment to step forward and take a bow.  We'll all enjoy this for months to come.

Joseph W. Rudmin and Joseph D. Rudmin, James Madison University.