Titan's first close-up

Cassini-Huygens makes successful Titan fly-by

27 October 2004

The NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens spacecraft sent back pictures and information after making the closest-ever fly-by of Saturn's largest moon Titan.

NASA's Deep Space Network tracking station in Madrid, Spain, acquired a signal at about 03:25 CEST after the spacecraft successfully skimmed the hazy atmosphere of the moon.

As anticipated, the spacecraft came within 1200 kilometres of Titan's surface, travelling at a speed of six kilometres per second (21 800 kilometres per hour)!

This fly-by not only allows important surface science to be performed, such as radar analysis at close quarters, but also it significantly changes the orbit of the spacecraft around Saturn. Currently Cassini-Huygens has an orbital period of four months, which changes to 48 days, setting the course for the next close Titan fly-by on 13 December 2004 and the Huygens probe release on 25 December.

Credits: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

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