Next Stop, Titan: Looking at the Land o' Lakes

Jun 04, 2010
Artist's concept of Cassini's June 4, 2010, flyby of Saturn's moon Titan. Image credit: NASA/JPL

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Cassini spacecraft will be eyeing the north polar region of Saturn's moon Titan this weekend, scanning the moon's land o' lakes.

At closest approach on early morning Saturday, June 5 UTC, which is Friday afternoon, June 4 Pacific time, Cassini will glide to within about 2,000 kilometers (1,300 miles) of the Titan surface.

Cassini will make infrared scans of the north polar region, which was in darkness for the first several years of Cassini's tour around the system. The lighting has improved as northern spring has started to dawn over the area.

The visual and infrared spectrometer will be prime during closest approach, but the imaging science subsystem cameras will also be taking pictures. Among the scientific bounties, Cassini team members are hoping to get another good look at Kraken Mare, the largest lake on Titan, which covers a greater area than the Caspian Sea on Earth.

Although this latest is dubbed "T69," planning changes early in the orbital tour made this the 70th targeted flyby of Titan.

Explore further: Is space tourism safe or do civilians risk health effects?

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