Science Daily: Saturn

Cassini says goodbye to a true Titan

Mere weeks away from its dramatic, mission-ending plunge into Saturn, NASA's Cassini spacecraft has a hectic schedule, orbiting the planet every week in its Grand Finale. On a few orbits, Saturn's largest moon, Titan, has been near enough to tweak Cassini's orbit, causing the spacecraft to approach Saturn a bit closer or a bit farther away. A couple of those distant passes even pushed Cassini into the inner fringes of Saturn's rings.

Cassini to begin final five orbits around Saturn

NASA's Cassini spacecraft will enter new territory in its final mission phase, the Grand Finale, as it prepares to embark on a set of ultra-close passes through Saturn's upper atmosphere with its final five orbits around the planet.

Complex chemistry in Saturn's moon Titan's atmosphere

Saturn’s frigid moon Titan has a curious atmosphere. In addition to a hazy mixture of nitrogen and hydrocarbons, like methane and ethane, Titan’s atmosphere also contains an array of more complex organic molecules, including vinyl cyanide, which astronomers recently uncovered in archival ALMA data. Under the right conditions, like those found on the surface of Titan, vinyl cyanide may naturally coalesce into microscopic spheres resembling cell membranes.

In a cosmic hit-and-run, icy Saturn moon may have flipped

Enceladus -- a large icy, oceanic moon of Saturn -- may have flipped, the possible victim of an out-of-this-world wallop. While combing through data collected by NASA's Cassini mission during flybys of Enceladus, astronomers have found the first evidence that the moon's axis has reoriented, according to new research published in Icarus.

History of Titan's landscape resembles that of Mars, not Earth

In a paper published in Science, researchers report that Titan, like Mars but unlike Earth, has not undergone any active plate tectonics in its recent past. The upheaval of mountains by plate tectonics deflects the paths that rivers take. The team found that this telltale signature was missing from river networks on Mars and Titan.