Titan Will Receive One Last FlyBy Visit From Cassini

titan and cassini

Saturday, Cassini will be making one more flyby of the moon Titan before the end of its mission.

 

NASA’s highly successful Saturn-exploring spacecraft, Cassini, will be making one more flyby of the moon Titan before the end of its mission. This Saturday, Cassini will make one last pass over the moon, coming within almost 600 miles of its surface. As it does so, it will be taking photos and readings with its various instruments the entire time.

Scientists also plan on using Titan’s gravity to assist Cassini as it prepares for its Grand Finale. This will be a series of dives between Saturn’s upper atmosphere and rings.

Cassini to Take One More Look At Titan Before It Says Its Final Farewell

With this last flyby, there will be a flurry of tests and experiments for Cassini, even as its directors prepare for a final trajectory change. Scientists hope to take measurements of the depth of Titan’s methane lakes and seas.

The experiments could also shed light on the moon’s so-called “magic islands”. These latter are now believed to be the result of static electricity building up on tiny particles of sand.

Cassini’s INMS or the Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer will also be closely examining the upper atmosphere of Titan. It will do so in an attempt to discover how it changes over time. The magnetometer on board the spacecraft will be used to measure Titan’s northern magnetic tail.

This is unique because the moon has no magnetic field of itself. Instead, it has a tail created by the interaction between its ionosphere and Saturn. Once the last measurement is taken, scientists will shift Cassini’s trajectory one final time.
Using Titan’s gravity to give it an extra push, Cassini will end its almost twenty-year mission with a series of dips. These will have it bouncing back and forth between Saturn’s upper atmosphere and its rings.
The spacecraft will make twenty-two of these dives over several weeks, taking measurements and sending back readings the entire time. It will end with a fiery burnout as Cassini finally collides with the planet it was launched to examine in October of 1997.
Image Source: JPL/NASA

About Marlene R. Litten

Marlene has always been a journalist at heart, though her wordsmithing capabilities helped her contribute to a multitude of blogs before finally settling for the online press. She strongly advocates for those treated unjustly and likes to cover US and World news.