Special Viewpoints

Intensive Titan Exploration Begins

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Science  13 May 2005:
Vol. 308, Issue 5724, pp. 969-970
DOI: 10.1126/science.1113205

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The Cassini Orbiter spacecraft first skimmed through the tenuous upper atmosphere of Titan on 26 October 2004. This moon of Saturn is unique in our solar system, with a dense nitrogen atmosphere that is cold enough in places to rain methane, the feedstock for the atmospheric chemistry that produces hydrocarbons, nitrile compounds, and Titan's orange haze. The data returned from this flyby supply new information on the magnetic field and plasma environment around Titan, expose new facets of the dynamics and chemistry of Titan's atmosphere, and provide the first glimpses of what appears to be a complex, fluid-processed, geologically young Titan surface.

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