- Slides: 47
Size comparison of the Outer Planets Earth Neptune Uranus
Early telescopic observations of Saturn a. Galileo, 1610; b. Huygens 1655; c. Cassini 1676
Spacecraft that have visited Saturn • Pioneer 11 flew within 21, 000 km of Saturn on 1 September 1979, discovered two new moons and an additional ring, charted Saturn's magnetosphere and magnetic field and found its planet-size moon Titan, to be too cold for life. • The Voyager 1 and 2 Saturn encounters occurred nine months apart, in November 1980 and August 1981. Discovers larger of internal to external heat: 2 -to-1 compared to 1 -to-1 for Jupiter. • Cassini orbital insertion on July 1, 2004. Took first image of a moon (Phoebe) on June 11, 2004. Still working in April 2006: http: //photojournal. jpl. nasa. gov/mission/Cassini • Cassini dropped the Huygens probe into atmosphere of Titan on January 14, 2005.
Cassini spacecraft; launched on Oct. 15, 1997 from KSC 7 Year cruise on Venus-Earth-Jupiter Gravity Assist Trajectory
The Cassini Spacecraft
Interior Structure of Saturn
Like on Jupiter, there are latitudinal bands of clouds and storms
Ribbon clouds in atmosphere – high-speed turbulence
Wind speeds at top of Saturn’s Atmosphere Opposite direction 1700 km/hr
Multiple Rings! Cassini Division D C B Encke Gap A F E Ring extends to 7. 5 Saturn radii from cloud top
Structure: Non-symmetric on each side of Saturn
Braided F-Ring of Saturn due to co-orbiting “shepherd” moons
Two shepherd satellites confine Saturn’s narrow F ring. The outer shepherd gravitationally deflects ring particles inward, and the inner shepherd deflects ring particles outward.
Prometheus <R> = 47 km, Density = 0. 42
Pandora <R> = 41 km, Density = 0. 54
Ring Spokes – Dust above the ring plane
The Smaller Moons of Saturn Janus Telesto Prometheus Helene Atlas Calypso Pandora Epimetheus
Janus <R> = 90 km, Density = 0. 61
Epimetheus <R> = 58 km, Density = 0. 64
Mimas, 392 km in diameter Herschel Crater is 130 km wide and 10 km deep!
Enceladus – 500 km in diameter Diverse surface, with some tectonics
Tethys – 1, 060 km in diameter. Heavily cratered, with some lineaments
Dione – 1, 120 km in diameter. Bright surface swirls, many craters
Rhea – 1, 530 km in diameter. Very heavily cratered
Various spacecraft views of Titan – 5, 150 km in diameter Cassini visible light image Pioneer 11 Voyager 1 Cassini near. IR image
What do we know about Titan? • It is the biggest of Saturn’s moons. • Titan’s diameter of 5, 150 km makes it larger than the planet Mercury with a diameter of 4, 880 km and Pluto (2, 350 km). • Only Jupiter's moon Ganymede is larger. • Three-and-a-quarter Earth Moons could fit inside Titan. • Titan is the only moon known to have a large atmosphere – maybe thicker than Earth’s (>1, 000 mb)! • Its atmosphere is mostly nitrogen, just like the atmosphere surrounding Earth, but thicker. • Its atmosphere contains methane and tiny amounts of oxygen.
Comparison of Titan’s atmosphere with Earth’s Important gases in Titan’s atmosphere
1. Ethane-methane lakes 3. Sedimentation of aerosols 2. Moist convection in methane clouds 4. Elevated terrain washed by rain 3. 2. 1. 4.
January 14, 2005 – Huygens Probe sent to Titan’s surface
Huygens scientific instruments • Aerosol Collector and Pyrolyzer: collects Titan's aerosols for chemical composition analysis; • Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer: makes spectral measurements and takes pictures of Titan's surface and atmospheric hazes; • Doppler Wind Experiment: uses radio signals to deduce wind speeds on Titan; • Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer: identifies and quantifies various atmospheric constituents on Titan; • Surface Science Package: determines the physical properties of Titan's surface.
Radar Image of Titan’s surface – valley systems
Few impact craters seen on Titan – implies young surface
Surface image from Huygens probe Horizon at 66 m 30 cm diameter 15 cm diameter Range 240 cm Range 85 cm
Iapetus – 1, 460 km in diameter. Striking albedo differences
Cassini Views of Iapetus is 1, 460 km diameter Orbits 59. 1 Saturn radii from planet 100 km
What’s Interesting about Phoebe? • Phoebe is roughly spherical and is ~220 km in diameter. • Phoebe rotates on its axis every 9 hours and orbits Saturn in ~18 months. • Its irregular, elliptical orbit is inclined ~30 degrees toward Saturn’s equator. • Phoebe’s orbit is retrograde. • Phoebe’s average distance from Saturn is 13 million km, which is ~4 times farther away from Saturn than its nearest neighbor, the moon Iapetus. • Phoebe and Iapetus are the only major moons in the Saturn region that do not orbit close to the plane of Saturn’s equator. • Unlike most major moons orbiting Saturn, Phoebe is very dark and reflects only 6 percent of the sunlight it receives.
Saturn’s moon Phoebe
Identification of surface materials on Phoebe