"Cassini" targets Titan

First photos from near

Saturn moon Titan NASA
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Just over 300, 000 kilometers away is the moon Titan from the American-European spacecraft "Cassini". After her arrival at Saturn, she photographed this moon for the first time from "nearness".

The black and white photographs show the southern half of the celestial body at a distance of "only" 340, 000 kilometers. However, dense cloudy veils in the atmosphere reveal nothing of the surface of the moon.

Also on Saturday, NASA released a color photo of the satellite. The picture was taken during the approach of "Cassini" to the Saturn system in mid-June. The distance to the moon at this time was about 13.1 million kilometers. The organically enriched atmosphere of the moon shines yellowish-brown.


At the beginning of next year, the European landing capsule "Huygens" flying on "Cassini" will hit Titan. It is envisaged that "Huygens" will study the atmosphere thoroughly. Scientists suspect that the Titan atmosphere resembles the gas envelope that surrounded the earth billions of years ago. By studying the atmosphere of the moon, the scientists hope to gain new insights into the origin of life on earth. display

Even before the landing of "Huygens" in mid-January, the mothership "Cassini", which has been orbiting Saturn since Thursday, will fly past the Titan twice (October 26 and December 13). Then "Cassini" will come close to the moon on only about 1000 kilometers.

(RP, 05.07.2004 - DLO)