Saturn’s third-largest moon Dione can be seen through the haze of Titan in this view from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. The rings, viewed nearly edge-on, appear as a horizontal line through the image. The rings cast shadows on Saturn, which appear as dark lines at the bottom of the image. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Cassini Still Going Strong

Source: Planetary Science Institute press release

Saturn system
Posted: 02/18/13

Summary: NASA’s Cassini mission is continuing its exploration of the Saturn system. Cassini has provided invaluable data for astrobiologists studying life’s potential on moons of giant planets.

NASA’s longstanding Cassini mission to Saturn continues to provide scientists with exciting new insights on moons Titan and Enceladus as well as the planet’s striking rings, Planetary Science Institute Senior Scientist Amanda R. Hendrix reported at a conference.

“Cassini, our emissary in the Saturn system since 2004, and the only spacecraft in orbit in the outer solar system, is still going strong,” said Hendrix, who spoke today on “The Organic Lakes of Titan and Other Moons of Saturn” at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in Boston.

“Cassini’s longevity allows the study of seasonal variations, along with temporal variations on a variety of scales — and its suite of 12 instruments is making complementary measurements, providing insight into different aspects of various scientific discoveries,” Hendrix, an investigator on the Cassini mission, said.

These areas of study include Titan’s lakes: composition, depth and seasonal variability; Titan’s weather patterns; the interior structure of Titan; Enceladus’ startling plume activity; surprises on the other moons, such as Iapetus, Dione and Mimas; and Saturn’s bizarre collection of small moons.

Cassini will remain in orbit around Saturn until September 2017. The spacecraft began increasing its orbital inclination again last year, allowing for prime viewing of the magnificent rings, as well as the high latitudes of the planet and Titan.

Read more: Cassini Still Going Strong — Astrobiology Magazine.

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