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: Life on Mars? Implications of a newly discovered mineral-rich structure

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

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

Australian amateur Terry Lovejoy discovers new comet

3 hours ago

It's confirmed! Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy just discovered his fifth comet, C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy). He found it August 17th using a Celestron C8 fitted with a CCD camera at his roll-off roof ...

Students see world from station crew's point of view

Aug 19, 2014

NASA is helping students examine their home planet from space without ever leaving the ground, giving them a global perspective by going beyond a map attached to a sphere on a pedestal. The Sally Ride Earth ...

Mars deep down

Aug 19, 2014

Scarring the southern highlands of Mars is one of the Solar System's largest impact basins: Hellas, with a diameter of 2300 km and a depth of over 7 km.

User comments : 0