Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cassini-Huygens makes first close approach to Titan

26.10.2004


Today the NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens spacecraft makes a fly-by of Saturn’s largest moon Titan - the closest ever performed.

At the time of the closest approach, which is scheduled for 18:44 CEST, the spacecraft will be travelling only 1200 kilometres above the surface of the moon, almost grazing the outer atmosphere, at a speed of six kilometres per second (21 800 kilometres per hour)!

Confirmation that the fly-by was successful and that all the data were received will not take place until 03:30 CEST on 27 October.



This fly-by not only allows important surface science to be performed, such as radar analysis at close quarters, but also it significantly changes the orbit of the spacecraft around Saturn. Currently Cassini-Huygens has an orbital period of four months, which will change to 48 days, thus setting the course for the next close Titan fly-by on 13 December 2004 and the Huygens probe release on 25 December.
Several of the observations performed during this fly-by will provide important information for ESA’s Huygens team, who will be using the data gathered to double-check atmospheric models for entry and descent on 14 January 2005.

The Huygens probe will need to perform reliably in some of the most challenging and remote environments ever attempted by a man-made object. On this pass, the Huygens touchdown site will be visible at around 167 degrees East and 10.7 degrees South on the sunlit face of Titan before reaching the point of closest approach. Data from the imaging and radar instrumentation on board Cassini-Huygens should provide a tantalising idea of what the surface of Titan could be like. A second view of the Huygens touchdown site will be possible on the second close fly-by in December.

Jean-Pierre Lebreton, ESA’s Huygens Mission Manager and Project Scientist, said: “This first close-up look at Titan should enable us to find out just how precisely our atmospheric models fit with the real situation and of course we are excited about the prospect of discovering just what type of surface the Huygens probe could impact on early next year.”

Today’s fly-by will also be looking at other aspects of Titan which, although it is the second largest moon in the Solar System after Jupiter’s Ganymede, we know relatively little about. The instruments on board the Cassini orbiter will be looking at the surface characteristics, atmospheric properties and interactions with Saturn’s magnetosphere. Huygens is dormant during the fly-by.

The first images are expected at 03:30 CEST on 28 October. However, at the point of closest approach, Titan will have an apparent size far exceeding the field of view of the Cassini orbiter’s narrow-angle camera. Details below a 100-metre resolution may be seen if the camera can pierce the haze and fog. Spectacular multicolour images at 1-2 kilometre resolution are also anticipated from the Visual Infrared and Mapping Spectrometer and may reveal details about Titan surface structure and composition.

However, the excitement does not stop after 26 October. On 28 October, at about 12:30 CEST, there is a close encounter with Tethys, another of the significant moons of Saturn. Tethys is a ball of solid ice about 1060 kilometres in diameter which orbits Saturn at a distance of 295 000 kilometres. The Cassini-Huygens spacecraft will pass within 246 000 kilometres of this moon at a speed of 13.8 kilometres per second. At this distance the narrow-angle camera should be able to resolve features down to about 1.4 kilometres in size.

Guido de Marchi | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Cassini-Huygens/SEMB2E0A90E_0.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht The Fraunhofer IAF is a »Landmark in the Land of Ideas«
15.06.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Festkörperphysik IAF

nachricht Delft scientists make first 'on demand' entanglement link
14.06.2018 | Delft University of Technology

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

Im Focus: Photoexcited graphene puzzle solved

A boost for graphene-based light detectors

Light detection and control lies at the heart of many modern device applications, such as smartphone cameras. Using graphene as a light-sensitive material for...

Im Focus: Water is not the same as water

Water molecules exist in two different forms with almost identical physical properties. For the first time, researchers have succeeded in separating the two forms to show that they can exhibit different chemical reactivities. These results were reported by researchers from the University of Basel and their colleagues in Hamburg in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

From a chemical perspective, water is a molecule in which a single oxygen atom is linked to two hydrogen atoms. It is less well known that water exists in two...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A sprinkle of platinum nanoparticles onto graphene makes brain probes more sensitive

15.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

100 % Organic Farming in Bhutan – a Realistic Target?

15.06.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Perovskite-silicon solar cell research collaboration hits 25.2% efficiency

15.06.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>