Ranger Lunar Spacecraft



However, the astronomers will require more HST observations in order to obtain accurate measurements in order to determine if the moon's orbit is circular or elliptical. Preliminary estimates suggest that if the moon is in a circular orbit, it finishes a circle around Makemake in 12 days or longer. 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. Titan: Titan, the tormented, hydrocarbon-slashed largest moon of Saturn--and the second largest moon in our Solar System, after Ganymede--could possess a subsurface, salty ocean that may well be as salty as the Dead Sea on Earth. The salty water could begin approximately 31 to 62 miles beneath Titan's icy shell, according to recent estimates. Meanwhile, on Titan's smog enshrouded surface, "life as we do not know it" could swim in alien lakes and rivers that flow with liquid methane and ethane hydrocarbons--instead of water.