Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Titan’s First Close-Up

27.10.2004


Cassini-Huygens, the joint NASA/ESA/ASI space mission has successfully made a close encounter with Saturn’s moon, Titan. This was confirmed in the early hours of this morning as the first information and pictures were beamed back via NASA’s Deep Space Network tracking station in Madrid, Spain. As anticipated, the spacecraft came within 1,200 kilometres (750 miles) of Titan’s surface.

At the time, Cassini was about 1.3 billion kilometres (826 million miles) from Earth. Numerous images, perhaps as many as 500, were taken by the visible light camera and were being transmitted back to Earth. It takes 1 hour and 14 minutes for the images to travel from the spacecraft to Earth. The downlink of data will continue through the night into the early morning hours. Cassini project engineers will continue to keep a close watch on a rainstorm in Spain, which may interrupt the flow of data from the spacecraft.

Professor Carl Murray from Queen Mary, University of London, a member of the Cassini Imaging Science Subsystem team, has been taking a look at the first images, "Titan’s veil has been lifted yet again and we have been treated to a spectacular array of images from this bizarre moon. The return of this data from such a peculiar and distant world is another remarkable success for Cassini. When the images are combined with data from the other instruments on Cassini we will have a much more complete understanding of what the Huygens probe can expect when it lands in January."



The flyby was by far the closest any spacecraft has ever come to Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, perpetually drenched in a thick blanket of smog. Titan is a prime target of the Cassini-Huygens mission because it is the only moon in our solar system with an atmosphere. It is a cosmic time capsule that offers a look back in time to see what Earth might have been like before the appearance of life.

Mark Leese, is a member of the Huygens team at the Open University, who are involved in the Science Surface Package (SSP) and the Huygens Atmospheric Instrument (HASI). “The Open University Huygens team are looking forward to what these images and other data may tell us about the surface of Titan, in anticipation of the Huygens mission on January 14th 2005. Then we hope that the UK built Surface Science Package will send back the first measurements from the surface of Titan.”

He adds, “The combination of images, spectrometer measurements and RADAR data from this close flyby should help to prepare us for the mission ahead. In addition, Cassini’s measurements of the atmosphere should confirm that the Titan atmosphere model used to design the probe entry system is correct.”

The Huygens probe, built and operated by the European Space Agency, is attached to Cassini; its release is planned on Christmas Day. It will descend through Titan’s opaque atmosphere on January 14, 2005, to collect data and touch down on the surface.

UK scientists are playing significant roles in the Cassini Huygens mission with involvement in 6 of the 12 instruments onboard the Cassini orbiter and 2 of the 6 instruments on the Huygens probe. The UK has the lead role in the magnetometer instrument on Cassini (Imperial College) and the Surface Science Package on Huygens (Open University).

Gill Ormrod | alfa
Further information:
http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/news/events/titana/index.cfm
http://www.pparc.ac.uk

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Physicists discover that lithium oxide on tokamak walls can improve plasma performance
22.05.2017 | DOE/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

nachricht Experts explain origins of topographic relief on Earth, Mars and Titan
22.05.2017 | City College of New York

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: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

Im Focus: Hydrogen Bonds Directly Detected for the First Time

For the first time, scientists have succeeded in studying the strength of hydrogen bonds in a single molecule using an atomic force microscope. Researchers from the University of Basel’s Swiss Nanoscience Institute network have reported the results in the journal Science Advances.

Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe and is an integral part of almost all organic compounds. Molecules and sections of macromolecules are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

Media accreditation opens for historic year at European Health Forum Gastein

16.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New approach to revolutionize the production of molecular hydrogen

22.05.2017 | Materials Sciences

Scientists enlist engineered protein to battle the MERS virus

22.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Experts explain origins of topographic relief on Earth, Mars and Titan

22.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>