Learn about the discoveries on the planet Titan and the missions of the Cassini.
Read the full transcript »
The Discoveries on Titan by Cassini On the first of its 45 encounters with Titan, the Cassini-Huygens mission observed Saturn’s giant moon at close quarters. The planet sized moon looks increasingly like another world. As the data arrived, scientists related but Titan still retains many of its secrets. With all the surface displays highly contrasted areas, scientists remained baffled not least by the more complex organic molecules than anticipated were detected in Titan’s atmosphere. Cassini’s navigation was spot on, it passed less than 12,000 kilometers from the moon’s surface. This allowed instruments to taste the upper levels of its atmosphere and to survey an area of Titan with a remarkable clarity with imaging resolutions up to 200 meters per pixel. The surprises, few methane clouds than expected were seen. But from their movement, a first conclusion has been reached. Titan’s atmosphere is moving faster than the moon’s rotation, a so-called super rotation like on Venus. Although the surface displays highly contrasted areas such as 2,000 kilometer wide view with close-ups, scientists still remained baffled. There are mysteries still over eventual liquids that the ISS cameras could have revealed by detecting their different specular reflections of sunlight. Many of ISS images provided during the flyby showed linear features which might be grooves, striations or fractious. An extra day of processing was required before the presentation of the much awaited radar observation of Titan. This was a 2000 kilometer long strip in the northern hemisphere not yet covered by other optical instruments. A wide geological variety is seen. Bright areas correspond to rougher terrains, darker ones thought to be smoother. Scientists described Titan as active and youthful. It has unique, narrow and very long linear features and many riches. The young daughter of one radar team member has found a resemblance and the area has been dubbed Si-si “The Halloween Cat. Cassini is circling Titan every 48 days.