T-110 Flyby: A Fresh Look at Titan’s Sunny Seas
On March 16, Cassini soared within 1,414 miles (2,275 kilometers) of Titan to carry out a targeted flyby of the hazy Saturn moon. Each flyby gives us a little more knowledge of Titan and its remarkable similarities to our world.
Like our home planet, Titan experiences seasons. As Titan approaches northern summer solstice, increasing sunlight allows the north polar lakes to be seen in near-infrared images, providing scientists with clues about the surrounding terrain.
During closest approach, Cassini's visual and infrared mapping spectrometer (VIMS) took a high-resolution regional map of Titan’s north polar lakes. A high-resolution mosaic of part of the North polar area was acquired to look for seasonal changes due to the approach of summer solstice. VIMS also captured images of the dune fields and bright plateaus on the Saturn-facing side of Titan.
For the first time, Cassini obtained gravity data using its low-gain antenna, contributing to our understanding of Titan’s interior structure. Previous radio science gravity flybys of Titan used the spacecraft’s large high-gain antenna, which gives higher quality data but prevents Cassini’s cameras from imaging the moon at the same time. For this flyby, radio science “rode along” with imaging science for the first time.