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Cassini answers Titan secrets, NASA plans helicopter mission to cloudy world

29 Jun 2019, 19:50 UTC
Cassini answers Titan secrets, NASA plans helicopter mission to cloudy world
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Even though Cassini ended its mission nearly two years ago, data from all of the spacecraft’s flybys of the Saturnian moon Titan continue to help scientists unlock the mysteries of this world shrouded by a thick, dense atmosphere.
Now, NASA is planning a return to this extreme object of interest in the solar system – a location that is quite favorable for harboring life in its methane-rich environment.
Titan offers up secrets to its methane lakes
During its final flyby of Titan in 2017, the Cassini spacecraft trained its radar instruments onto the moon – peering beneath the obscuring cloud layer that envelops Titan to gather data on a series of small liquid methane lakes in the moon’s northern hemisphere.
The data, analyzed by scientists and published earlier this year in Nature Astronomy, offer new glimpses into the depths of the lakes and surrounding terrain at which they reside.

On Titan, the mysteries run deep. During its final flyby of Saturn’s giant moon, Cassini revealed that some of Titan's methane lakes are surprisingly deep and perched atop hills. Learn more: https://t.co/39BS2VyLAQ pic.twitter.com/MjhXYynzpu
— NASA Solar System (@NASASolarSystem) April 15, 2019

Specifically, Cassini data shows that these methane ...

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