Peering closer at Titan
The NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens spacecraft continues its observations of Saturn’s mysterious moon Titan, stealing another early peek at the haze-enshrouded surface.
The Cassini-Huygens view of Titan now surpasses Earth-based observations in its ability to show detail. Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, is the prime target for the European-built Huygens probe on board Cassini.
Perpetually shrouded by a hazy atmosphere, scientists believe Titan may harbour methane seas and organic chemicals, possibly like those on the early Earth.
Huygens will be the first probe to descend to the surface of a moon of another planet, and is by far the most distant descent of a robotic probe ever attempted on another object in the Solar System.
The spacecraft was 29.3 million kilometres from Titan on 5 May 2004, when the image on the left was taken by the narrow-angle camera, though filters specifically designed to penetrate the moon's thick atmosphere.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, ESA and ASI, the Italian space agency.
Credits: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute