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October 20, 2014 - Barnstorming Titan

Barnstorming Titan When the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft flew by Saturn in 1980 and 1981, they were able to pay only fleeting attention to Titan, the second largest moon in the solar system (larger even than the planet Mercury) and the only solar system moon with an appreciable atmosphere. Titan’s atmosphere has long intrigued scientists, who speculated that it created conditions sufficient to support lakes of liquid methane on Titan’s surface. Ten years ago this week, the Cassini spacecraft, orbiting Saturn, made the first of what would be dozens of flybys of Titan, some bringing the spacecraft and its cloud-penetrating radar to within 880 km (547 mi) of the moon and confirming the presence of lakes of liquid hydrocarbons on the surface. These images are from subsequent Titan flybys in 2005 and 2006.

Image credit: NASA / JPL / University of Arizona

Weekly Calendar

October 20-26, 2014

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

 

Moon phase Monday 20

1970: Zond 8 launched
1995: STS-73 Columbia launched

Moon phase Tuesday 21

Orionid meteor shower

1923: First public planetarium show, Deutsches Museum in Munich
1998
: Hubble Heritage Project website launched
2008: Chandrayaan-1 lunar probe launched

Moon phase Wednesday 22

Orionid meteor shower

2136 BC: First record of solar eclipse
1905: Karl Jansky born
1966: Luna 12 launched
1975: Venera 9 orbits Venus
1992: STS-52 Columbia launched

Moon phase Thursday 23

New Moon 5:57 PM ET
Partial solar eclipse visible from parts of North America

1968: First powered flight of the HL-10 lifting body
2007: STS-120 Discovery launched

Moon phase Friday 24

United Nations Day

1851: William Lassell discovers Uranus moons Umbriel & Ariel
1968: 199th and final X-15 flight
1998: Deep Space 1 launched
2007: Chang'e-1 lunar spacecraft launched

Moon phase Saturday 25

Mercury appears stationary
Venus in superior conjunction
Saturn 1° S of Moon

1671: Giovanni Cassini discovers Iapetus, moon of Saturn
1877: Henry Norris Russell born
1975: Venera 10 lands on Venus
2006: STEREO spacecraft launched

Moon phase Sunday 26

Pallas in conjunction with Sun

1977: Fifth and final glide test of Space Shuttle Enterprise
2004: Cassini spacecraft completes first flyby of Titan

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.