NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Address



Enshrouded in a dense golden hydrocarbon mist, Saturn's largest moon Titan is a mysterious mesmerizing world in its own right. For centuries, Titan's veiled, frigid surface was completely camouflaged by this hazy golden-orange cloud-cover that hid its icy surface from the prying eyes of curious observers on Earth. However, this misty moisty moon-world was finally forced to show its mysterious face, long-hidden behind its obscuring veil of fog, when the Cassini Spacecraft's Huygens Probe landed on its surface in 2004, sending revealing pictures back to astronomers on Earth. In September 2018, astronomers announced that new data obtained from Cassini show what appear to be gigantic, roaring dust storms, raging through the equatorial regions of Titan. The discovery, announced in the September 24, 2018 issue of the journal Nature Geoscience, makes this oddball moon-world the third known object in our Solar System--in addition to Earth and Mars--where ferocious dust storms have been observed. The observations are now shedding new light on the fascinating and dynamic environment of Titan, which is the second largest moon in our Solar System, after Ganymede of Jupiter. The Cassini Imaging Team discovered Methone (pronounced me-thoh-nee) on June 1, 2004. This tiny moon orbits between two of Saturn's mid-sized icy moons, Mimas and Enceladus, at a radius of about 194,000 kilometers (120,456 miles) from its planet. Astronomers have suggested two differing theories to explain the presence of Methone and two other small sister moons, Pallene and Anthe. The first theory indicates that the three little moons may have fragmented off of either Mimas or Enceladus. The second theory, on the other hand, suggests that all five moons--the three small moons and the two mid-size ones--may be the sad remnants of a larger menagerie of moons that floated around in that area--which is situated close to Saturn. Methone orbits its gigantic parent planet in 24 hours. When President John F. Kennedy stated in 1960's that the US will go to the moon in less than a decade, most people were extremely skeptical. The reason for this stemmed from the fact that USSR had shown more accomplishments in the space race after the launch of Sputnik, which was the world's first satellite. Naturally, the skepticism was unfounded, since the US put all of its efforts in to the Moon program as billions of dollars were put in to it. The development of the Saturn rocket as well as the development of the Apollo lunar module took less than a decade, since the whole heart and soul of the American public was put into the Lunar program. Even the various tragedies such as the loss of Astronauts in the Apollo fire tragedy didn't deter the public. As a result, 1969 was an important year in the human history as mankind stepped into Lunar soil for the first time. Sadly, the program was discontinued and since the 1970's, no man has even stepped into the Lunar soil ever again.