More Questions Than Answers | Aero-News Network
Aero-News Network
RSS icon RSS feed
podcast icon MP3 podcast
Subscribe Aero-News e-mail Newsletter Subscribe

Airborne Unlimited -- Recent Daily Episodes

Episode Date

AMA Drone Report

Airborne-Monday

Airborne-Tuesday

Airborne-Wednesday

Airborne-Thursday

Airborne-Friday

Airborne On ANN

ADR 02.13.17

Airborne 02.13.17

Airborne 02.14.17

Airborne 02.15.17

Airborne 02.16.17

Airborne 02.17.17

Airborne-HD On YouTube

ADR 02.13.17

Airborne 02.13.17

Airborne 02.14.17

Airborne 02.15.17

Airborne 02.16.17

Airborne 02.17.17

Thu, Jul 15, 2004

More Questions Than Answers

Cassini Scientists Rethinking Titan

NASA and the European Space Agency became fascinated with Saturn's moon, Titan, after analyzing the data from Voyager's flyby in 1980 and 1981. That's when they discovered the moon's dense atmosphere, made mostly of methane. Why, they wondered, at temperatures prevalent on Titan, doesn't the methane fall from the sky like rain? Perhaps there was a ocean of methane on the surface.

So they decided to launch Cassini-Huygens at a cost of $3.27 billion. But instead of answers, researchers are finding fuel for more and more questions.

For instance:

Even though the Titan telemetry from Cassini isn't quite what scientists were hoping for, they're seeing lines that could indicate cracks in the ice covering the surface. That could be a sign that Titan is all shook up by quakes -- meaning the Saturnian moon is a lot more geologically active than first believed.

Dark-hued plateaus once thought to be covered in a sort of carbon-based tar appear instead to be covered with ice.

Light-colored plateaus once thought to be made up of ice or liquid methane are instead a mixture of water and carbon-tar.

In spots where the plateaus butt up against each other, lines that should appear sharp -- as they do on Ganymede -- are instead fuzzy. Ellis Miner at the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena (CA) tells USA Today, "I think the fuzziness we've seen so far is telling us something is going on down there."

There are very few craters pockmarking Titan's surface. That leads scientists to theorize that impacts are quickly covered up by wind or perhaps even some sort of icy volcanos.

"I think there's more surprise than disappointment," Miner tells USA Today. "We're going to see some really fascinating things."

Elizabeth Tuttle, a University of Arizona scientist on the Cassini imaging team, agrees. "The story has changed completely," she told the national newspaper.

Tuttle, Miner and other scientists expect more answers in January. That's when Cassini will pass within 746 miles of Titan and release a drop-ship, the Huygens lander. Combined data from both vehicles is expected to clear up a lot of things about Saturn's most fascinating moon -- but, as with the mission so far, it could also raise more questions.

FMI: http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/index.cfm

Advertisement

More News

Airborne 02.17.17: Privatization Fight Is ON, X-37B Stays Up, TSA Arrests

Also: HeliTrak PMA, Aviation’s Next Big Fight, New KC Airport, Verifly, CFM Orders, Purdue Aviation, P&W Expansion Some of the aviation industry’s worst fears appea>[...]

Aero-News: Quote of the Day (02.19.17)

Aero-News Quote of the Day "Although our navigation algorithms can get even better, and we need to test them in many other parts of the world, this is a positive sign for Loon&rsqu>[...]

ANN's Daily Aero-Term (02.19.17): Takeoff Hold Lights (THL)

Takeoff Hold Lights (THL) The THL system is composed of in-pavement lighting in a double, longitudinal row of lights aligned either side of the runway centerline. The lights are fo>[...]

ANN's Daily Aero-Linx (02.19.17)

Aero Linx: Modification and Replacement Parts Association (MARPA) MARPA is the non-profit trade association that represents the Parts Manufacturer Approval (PMA) community. A PMA i>[...]

ANN FAQ: What Does The Airborne Partnership Initiative Mean For Your Business

Get Your Breaking News Out To The Industry A partnership between ANN and others in the aviation/aerospace industry offers more exposure, a greatly lessened strain on individual res>[...]

blog comments powered by Disqus



Advertisement

Advertisement

Podcasts

Advertisement

© 2007 - 2017 Web Development & Design by Pauli Systems, LC