A recap of earlier flybys of Saturn's moons Titan and Iapetus, and a preview of the next close flyby of Titan.


Hello and welcome to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

I'm Shadan Ardalan, one of the navigators helping to fly the Cassini spacecraft around Saturn. For fans of the original Star Trek series, my job would probably be most like Lt.Sulu at the helm.

Since our last update, Cassini celebrated its 10th anniversary of launch and made the closest flyby ever, of the moon, Iapetus. It gave us a window seat view over the rugged, mountainous ridge along the moon's equator.

So on the heels of Iapetus, the Cassini team had to tweak Cassini's path in preparation for our 37th targeted encounter with Titan on October 2nd. Scientists say that if Titan were a planet, it would likely stand out as the most important planet in the solar system for humans to explore. On this flyby, the navigators positioned the Cassini spacecraft over Titan's southern hemisphere for the first time.

Scientists were on the hunt for lakes or seas to see if they're as prevalent as they are at the north pole. This flyby provided us our first confirmation of lakes in the southern hemisphere. So Cassini's next close encounter with Titan is on November 19th. Cassini will dip its toe once again into Titan's atmosphere. On our last flyby, scientists were surprised because they were expecting a thicker atmosphere than they found. This Nov. 19th flyby also starts Cassini's last climb up Saturn's ladder, increasing its inclination up to about 75 degrees by next summer. What this means is the images will go from a perspective of this, to even higher up than this.

As an avid photographer, these images for me contain as much artistic value as they do scientific value. For the latest news from Cassini, please go to our website, saturn.jpl.nasa.gov . I'm Shadan Ardalan from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
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