Magnetic Dance of Titan and Saturn To Be Main Attraction during Flyby

Dec 14, 2009
Artist's concept of Cassini's Dec. 11 flyby of Saturn's largest moon, Titan. Image credit: NASA/JPL

(PhysOrg.com) -- When it flies by Saturn's largest moon, Titan, this weekend, NASA's Cassini spacecraft will study the interactions between the magnetic field of Saturn and Titan. The flyby will take place the evening of Dec. 11 California time, or shortly after midnight Universal Time on Dec. 12.

As Titan plows through the magnetic bubble, or magnetosphere around Saturn, it creates a wake in the magnetic field lines coming away from the planet. This flyby will allow Cassini's fields and particles instruments to study that wake about 5,200 kilometers (3,200 miles) away from the moon, a relatively unexamined region. Other instruments will also be taking a closer look at Titan's clouds.

At closest approach to Titan, Cassini will swing to within about 4,900 kilometers (3,000 miles) of the surface of the .

Cassini last zoomed by Titan two months ago. Although this latest flyby is dubbed "T63," planning changes early in the orbital tour have made this the sixty-fourth targeted flyby of Titan.

is a kind of "sister world" to Earth because it has a surface covered with organic material and an atmosphere whose hearkens back to an early Earth.

Provided by JPL/NASA (news : web)

Explore further: How bad can solar storms get?

Related Stories

Cassini Attempts 12th Titan Flyby

Feb 28, 2006

NASA's Cassini spacecraft returns to Titan on Monday for its twelfth flyby since beginning to survey Saturn and its moons on July 4, 2004.

Another Successful Cassini's Titan Flyby

Dec 15, 2004

The Cassini spacecraft completed a successful rendezvous with Saturn's moon Titan on Monday, Dec. 13. This was the last pass before the European Space Agency's Huygens probe is sprung loose from Cassini on Christmas ...

Giant Crater on Titan

Feb 17, 2005

A giant impact crater the size of Iowa was spotted on Saturn's moon Titan by NASA's Cassini radar instrument during Tuesday's Titan flyby. Cassini flew within 1,577 kilometers (980 miles) of Titan's surface ...

Cassini Mission Status Report

Dec 29, 2004

NASA's Cassini spacecraft successfully performed a getaway maneuver on Monday, Dec. 27, to keep it from following the European Space Agency's Huygens probe into the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan. This maneuver established the required geometry between the probe a ...

Huygens on Titan, First Images 2:45 p.m. EST

Jan 14, 2005

European Space Agency mission managers for the Huygens probe confirm that data of the probe's descent to Saturn's moon Titan are being received. They expect to see first images around 2:45 p.m. Eastern Time. The data was ...

Cassini Goes On

Aug 24, 2004

The Cassini spacecraft successfully completed a 51-minute engine burn that will raise its next closest approach distance to Saturn by nearly 300,000 kilometers (186,000 miles). The maneuver was necessary to keep the spacec ...

Recommended for you

How bad can solar storms get?

May 22, 2015

Our sun regularly pelts the Earth with all kinds of radiation and charged particles. How bad can these solar storms get?

Mars rover's ChemCam instrument gets sharper vision

May 22, 2015

NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover's "ChemCam" instrument just got a major capability fix, as Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists uploaded a software repair for the auto-focus system on the instrument.

GOES-R satellite begins environmental testing

May 21, 2015

The GOES-R satellite, slated to launch in 2016, is ready for environmental testing. Environmental testing simulates the harsh conditions of launch and the space environment once the satellite is in orbit. ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.