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Titan Saturn System Mission
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Titan Saturn System Mission
One of the key discoveries that the Cassini Orbiter
Cassini mission flies by Saturn’s moon Titan
and the Huygens Probe revealed for us was discovering the liquid lakes on Titan. Cassini was able to look at the lakes,
Jonathan Lunine, American Co‐Chair, Joint Science Definition Team, Titan Saturn System Mission
get a sense of the coarse composition of the lakes, but nothing
Dark areas are Titan’s lakes
about the organic molecules that are dissolved in the lakes.
The Titan Saturn System Mission is a 3‐in‐1 mission, with an orbiter for Titan, a balloon that will float through Titan’s atmosphere and a lander that will splash down on one of the northern lakes of Titan. This mission will actually go into a lake, sample the liquid directly, see what the organic molecules are that are present.
The Titan Saturn System Mission also will go to Enceladus,
Saturn’s moon Enceladus
a tinier moon, a thousand times smaller than Titan, which has volcanoes – geysers, essentially – that are spewing material from the inside of this moon outward. And it’s a chance to see whether
Flying through Enceladus’ plumes
there might be molecules that would indicate that life has actually formed within the source region of these geysers. These geysers have water ice, and we strongly suspect that there’s liquid water in the region that these geysers are coming from.
South pole of Enceladus, Artist’s concept
We know there are organic molecules there, because they’ve been measured by Cassini.
December 24, 2004: Cassini releases Huygens probe to Titan
The ability to follow this up quickly is essential, because with Cassini‐Huygens, we have now trained a generation of scientists who are ready to take a new generation of instruments and capabilities back to Titan and Enceladus
January 14, 2005: Huygens probe lands
and really answer the questions that Cassini‐Huygens has left for us.
Cassini at Saturn
And that continuity of…of knowledge and of enthusiasm is essential and very difficult to maintain in the outer solar system because trip times are so long.
Titan Saturn System Mission
The Titan Saturn System Mission really is Jules Verne realized. It’s a kind of planetary exploration that we have never, ever done before anywhere else in the solar system and can only be done on Titan.
This mission will touch the human heart in terms of the way it’s exploring this fascinating world. It will be floating on the surface of a lake. It will be floating through the atmosphere. It will be revealing the entire surface from orbit at the same time.
As we think of exploration, of unveiling a new world, it’s exploration in the true sense of the word.

NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

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