Cassini Tunes In to Radio Titan Again!

NASA / JPL / Val Klavans

Q U I C K   F A C T S

  • Date : June 17, 2014 (3:28 PM UTC) – June 19, 2014 (1:28 PM UTC)
  • Time of Closest Approach : June 18, 2014 @ 1:28 PM UTC
    (What time Cassini is closest to Titan)
  • Altitude at Closest Approach : 2,274 miles (3,659 kilometers)
  • Speed : 13,000 mph (5.8 km/sec)
  • Goal : To learn more about Titan’s surface and atmosphere

* * *

T I M E L I N E

F l y b y   b e g i n s
(Inbound part of the flyby)

  • Date : June 17, 2014
  • Time : 3:28 PM UTC  ➤  Countdown

On Cassini’s way to Titan, its camera system, also known as the Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS) instrument, will observe Titan’s southern hemisphere. ISS will also acquire a global mapping mosaic of Titan. It will cover much of the visible face of Titan and will be centered just south of eastern Aztlan.

Below is a simulated view from Celestia of ISS’ global mapping mosaic of Titan.

Celestia / CICLOPS

Cassini’s Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) instrument will measure Titan’s atmospheric and surface temperatures. CIRS will also make observations focusing on the surface and limb of the moon.

ISS will be riding along during CIRS’ observations and taking photos along the way.

C l o s e s t   a p p r o a c h
After closest approach, Cassini begins to travel away from Titan (outbound part of the flyby).

  • Date : June 18, 2014
  • Time : 1:28 PM UTC  ➤  Countdown

The overall goal of this flyby is to learn more about Titan’s atmosphere and surface. In order to accomplish this, Cassini’s Radio Science Subsystem (RSS) instrument will bounce radio signals off Titan’s surface which will be received on Earth (also known as a bistatic observation). This experiment will yield important information about the composition, reflectivity, and roughness of Titan’s surface.

At closest approach, when Cassini is closest to Titan during the flyby, RSS will send a signal through Titan’s atmosphere that will then be acquired back on Earth (also known as a radio occultation). From this experiment we can learn more about seasonal change in Titan’s atmosphere including the formation and breakup of Titan’s south polar vortex.

To see how Cassini carries out the radio occultation, check out the video below (from Cassini’s previous flyby).


NASA / JPL / Cassini Scientist For a Day

O u t b o u n d

As Cassini leaves Titan, ISS will observe a crescent Titan over its northern hemisphere, covering its north pole.

RSS will also bounce radio signals off Ligeia Mare and Kraken Mare (Titan’s second and first largest seas, respectively), as part of RSS’ bistatic observations.

CIRS will acquire more data about the structure, temperature, and composition of Titan’s upper haze layers. ISS will be riding along again, snapping more photos along the way.

Below is the most recent view of Titan’s surface, snapped by ISS. Click on the image to learn more.

NASA / JPL / SSI / Val Klavans
NASA / JPL / SSI / Val Klavans

E n d   o f   f l y b y

  • Date : June 19, 2014
  • Time : 1:28 PM UTC

Be sure to check here for the latest news from the flyby!

* * *

S O U R C E S

Want to know even more about this flyby? Check out Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for Operations’ (CICLOPS) website with information on Cassini’s activities every day: Rev205: May 31 – Jul 2 ’14 and a quick overview of this flyby from Cassini’s main website: Titan Flyby (T-102): Bouncing Radio Waves off Titan’s Lakes Again. (All of my information from this post, unless otherwise specified, comes from these sources.)

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