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View Full Version : Discussion: Cassini's First Titan Flyby Tomorrow



Fraser
2004-Oct-25, 04:36 PM
SUMMARY: NASA's Cassini spacecraft will make its first close approach tomorrow to Titan, Saturn's largest moon. The spacecraft will skim within only 1,200 km (745 miles) of the moon's atmosphere, which should allow its radar to penetrate through its thick methane atmosphere and reveal details about its surface. Scientists have theories, but they really have no idea exactly what Cassini is going to discover; whether it's covered in ancient craters, or there are ongoing geologic processes that are reshaping its surface continuously. Cassini will also gather data about Huygens' potential landing site when it arrives at the moon in a couple of months.

What do you think about this story? Post your comments below.

Victoria
2004-Oct-25, 04:52 PM
Is it true that Titan's atmosphere is similar to that of Earth's? I'm sure the ratio would be closer to 100 to 1; though it may be an insight to how Earth could reconstuct itself if ever need.

lswinford
2004-Oct-25, 08:26 PM
Victoria, similar, as we best guess, to an early earth. Certainly not as we now so pleasantly experience.

I bet the surface is solid and that there will be plenty of comparatively smooth undulating plains (distant radar scans found features that may be like oily seas) for our probe to land on. I wonder, however, with the cold if the probe will crack upon impact. I remember watching film of a banana dunked in liquid nitrogen and it was hard enough to drive nails in a board, but a piece of lettuce leaf dipped into the same nitrogen shattered like thin glass when the lettuce was dropped on the table from even a short distance. So I hope it works as planned.

antoniseb
2004-Oct-25, 08:44 PM
Originally posted by lswinford@Oct 25 2004, 08:26 PM
I bet the surface is solid and that there will be plenty of comparatively smooth undulating plains
Tomorrow is just a fly-by and radar scan, and the radar scan will not be resolving individual rocks.

Fully expecting to be proven wrong, I'm guessing the surface will be similar to the moon's with mountains and maria, but that they will be made of materials more like what we see on Europa [ice and frozen acids] than on the moon.

Titan's atmosphere is full of some aerosol. Perhaps there are geysers spewing this stuff out of the planet. Time will tell [soon].

Spacemad
2004-Oct-25, 09:40 PM
I'm looking forward to seeing the results of this first close up fly by of Titan tomorrow by Cassini. :) It will be very interesting to see just what it turns up! I will be on the edge of my seat while waiting for the results to come in! :P

Will it turn up flat plains or oily seas of hydrocarbs - we'll see some answers - hopefully - tomorrow.

lswinford
2004-Nov-01, 02:12 PM
:rolleyes: Well, I guess I got part of that wrong :blink: