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Cassini to Fly By Tethys and Titan
06.25.07
 
This week, Cassini's travels will bring it by Saturn's moon Tethys (June 27) and Titan (June 29).

Cassini will get a close-up look at the large crater Odysseus, which is 450 kilometers (280 miles) in diameter, and Ithaca Chasma, a canyon that is four times as long as Earth's Grand Canyon. Scientists are studying how this canyon formed and whether Tethys was active in the past, like Enceladus is currently. Scientists will also obtain close-up images of mysterious dark patches on the moon, and they will be taking data to understand what the surface is made of. Scientists would like to learn if Tethys is only pure water ice, or if it's contaminated with dark material rich in organics, like the material that covers the dark side of Iapetus.

Tethys Image right: Saturn's moon Tethys. Image credit: NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute

Two days later Cassini returns to Titan. The spacecraft will send back radio waves to Earth as our home planet moves behind Titan (as seen from Cassini). The goal is to map Titan's shape in order to seek clues for a subsurface ocean, and to probe the atmosphere of the giant moon.