Written by Jane Platt
Pasadena, CA – NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has documented the formation of a small icy object within the rings of Saturn that may be a new moon, and may also provide clues to the formation of the planet’s known moons.
Images taken with Cassini’s narrow angle camera on April 15th, 2013, show disturbances at the very edge of Saturn’s A ring — the outermost of the planet’s large, bright rings. One of these disturbances is an arc about 20 percent brighter than its surroundings, 750 miles (1,200 kilometers) long and 6 miles (10 kilometers) wide.
Written by Whitney Clavin
Pasadena, CA – Titan, Europa, Io and Phobos are just a few members of our solar system’s pantheon of moons. Are there other moons out there, orbiting planets beyond our sun?
NASA-funded researchers have spotted the first signs of an “exomoon,” and though they say it’s impossible to confirm its presence, the finding is a tantalizing first step toward locating others. The discovery was made by watching a chance encounter of objects in our galaxy, which can be witnessed only once.
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.
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