Written by Gay Hill
Pasadena, CA – Ten years ago, we knew Titan as a fuzzy orange ball about the size of Mercury. We knew it had a nitrogen atmosphere — the only known world with a thick nitrogen atmosphere besides Earth. But what might lie beneath the hazy air was still just a guess.
On March 6th, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft will swoop down within 933 miles (1,500 kilometers) of Titan to conduct its 100th flyby of the Saturn moon. Each flyby gives us a little more knowledge of Titan and its striking similarities to our world.
Written by Jia-Rui Cook
Pasadena, CA -This holiday season, feast your eyes on images of Saturn and two of its most fascinating moons, Titan and Enceladus, in a care package from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. All three bodies are dressed and dazzling in this special package assembled by Cassini’s imaging team.
“During this, our tenth holiday season at Saturn, we hope that these images from Cassini remind everyone the world over of the significance of our discoveries in exploring such a remote and beautiful planetary system,” said Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team leader, based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, CO. “Happy holidays from all of us on Cassini.”
Written by Jia-Rui Cook
Pasadena, CA – With the sun now shining down over the north pole of Saturn’s moon Titan, a little luck with the weather, and trajectories that put the spacecraft into optimal viewing positions, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has obtained new pictures of the liquid methane and ethane seas and lakes that reside near Titan’s north pole.
The images reveal new clues about how the lakes formed and about Titan’s Earth-like “hydrologic” cycle, which involves hydrocarbons rather than water.
Pasadena, CA – NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has found propylene, a chemical used to make food-storage containers, car bumpers and other consumer products, on Saturn’s moon Titan.
This is the first definitive detection of the plastic ingredient on any moon or planet, other than Earth.
A small amount of propylene was identified in Titan’s lower atmosphere by Cassini’s composite infrared spectrometer (CIRS). This instrument measures the infrared light, or heat radiation, emitted from Saturn and its moons in much the same way our hands feel the warmth of a fire.
Pasadena, CA – An analysis of gravity and topography data from the Saturnian moon Titan obtained by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft suggests there could be something unexpected about the moon’s outer ice shell.
The findings, published on August 28th in the journal Nature, suggest that Titan’s ice shell could be rigid, and that relatively small topographic features on the surface could be associated with large ice “roots” extending into the underlying ocean.
Washington, D.C. – One of the most shocking discoveries of the past 10 years is how much the landscape of Saturn’s moon Titan resembles Earth.
Like our own blue planet, the surface of Titan is dotted with lakes and seas; it has river channels, islands, mud, rain clouds and maybe even rainbows. The giant moon is undeniably wet.
The “water” on Titan is not, however, H2O. With a surface temperature dipping 290 degrees fahrenheit below zero, Titan is far too cold for liquid water. Instead, researchers believe the fluid that sculpts Titan is an unknown mixture of methane, ethane, and other hard-to-freeze hydrocarbons.
Washington, D.C. – On July 19th, a photograph of the earth will be taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft through the rings of Saturn–and NASA wants you to jump into the shot. Consider it the first interplanetary photobomb.
“Cassini has photographed Earth before, but this will be the first time Earthlings know in advance their picture will be taken from a billion miles away,” says Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. “We hope that people around the world will go outside to wave at Saturn while the photo-shoot is underway.”
Written by Jia-Rui Cook
Pasadena, CA – From a distance, most of the Saturnian moon Dione resembles a bland cueball.
Thanks to close-up images of a 500-mile-long (800-kilometer-long) mountain on the moon from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, scientists have found more evidence for the idea that Dione was likely active in the past. It could still be active now.
Written by Jia-Rui C. Cook
Pasadena, CA – Saturn’s moon Titan might be in for some wild weather as it heads into its spring and summer, if two new models are correct. Scientists think that as the seasons change in Titan’s northern hemisphere, waves could ripple across the moon’s hydrocarbon seas, and hurricanes could begin to swirl over these areas, too.
The model predicting waves tries to explain data from the moon obtained so far by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Both models help mission team members plan when and where to look for unusual atmospheric disturbances as Titan summer approaches.
Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Washington, D.C. – NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has provided scientists the first close-up, visible-light views of a behemoth hurricane swirling around Saturn’s north pole.
In high-resolution pictures and video, scientists see the hurricane’s eye is about 1,250 miles (2,000 kilometers) wide, 20 times larger than the average hurricane eye on Earth. Thin, bright clouds at the outer edge of the hurricane are traveling 330 mph(150 meters per second). The hurricane swirls inside a large, mysterious, six-sided weather pattern known as the hexagon.
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