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Cassini at Saturn
Greetings from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
My name is Todd Barber, lead propulsion engineer on the Cassini mission to Saturn.
Here with your latest update from the ringed planet.
Since our last update,
Cassini imaged the loftiest mountains ever seen on Saturn's largest moon Titan.
These mountains are more than a mile high and
they are covered with organic material that apparently precipitated out of the Titan atmosphere.
In addition the mountains are flanked by clouds as we can see in this infrared snapshot.
Other vistas on Titan that should be familiar to Earthlings
include a potential volcanic flow deposit as well as Titan sand dunes.
Titan sand however, is apparently made of organic molecules very unlike the sands of planet Earth.
We have radar images from our most recent fly by and they are soon to be released.
We can't wait to see what that Titan surface looks like.
All these Titan flybys are cranking up the orbit of Cassini to a more polar orbit of Saturn.
This allows us to image the rings more like a disk, as you can see in this recent stunning image.
Next up for Cassini, is yet another Titan flyby.
On December 28, 2006 our radio science team will measure
Titan's gravity field for a possible subsurface liquid water and ammonia ocean.
In addition, our infrared cameras will look at the
Titan stratosphere measuring the chemical composition and thermal profiles.
Cassini closes out 2006 with a wonderful article in National Geographic magazine
and a beautiful picture of Saturn on the cover of the December issue.
Exactly 25 years ago, a Voyager spacecraft image of Saturn graced the cover of National Geographic
inspiring this Kansas teenager to follow his dreams to southern California and into the cosmos.
Wishing you happy holidays from Pasadena, California and Saturn, this is Todd Barber from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
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