All Known Galaxies



This important measurement was made using Cassini's INMS instrument, which detects gases with the goal of determining their composition. INMS was designed to sample the upper atmosphere of Saturn's large, smoggy moon Titan. However, after Cassini's surprising discovery of a tall plume if icy spray erupting from cracks on Enceladus in 2005, planetary scientists turned its detectors to that small moon. Until 2004, no spacecraft had visited Saturn for more than twenty years. Pioneer 11 took the very first close-up images of Saturn when it flew past in 1979. After that flyby, Voyager 1 had its rendezvous about a year later, and in August 1981 Voyager 2 had its brief, but glorious, encounter. Nearly a quarter of a century then passed before new high-resolution images of this beautiful, ringed planet were beamed back to Earth. This cycle has been appropriately named the 'dark moon'. The cycle from one dark moon to the next is called a lunation and an average lunation calculates at about 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes and 3 seconds (roughly) To be fair, it does deviate in relation to the moons erratic orbit patterns and is affected by the gravity conflict between the sun and the moon.