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2007 Saturn Tour Highlights

2007 Saturn Tour Highlights

Jan. 13, 2007: Titan flyby (T23) -- features a RADAR Synthetic Aperture Radar Imager (SAR) swath that overlaps the one taken in the first Titan flyby (TA) and ends near the mountains observed by the Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) in T20. Also the Ultraviolet Imaging Spectrograph (UVIS) will record a stellar occultation of Eta Ursa Major as it passes behind Titan.

Jan. 29, 2007: Titan flyby (T24) -- the Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) records a stellar occultation of Gamma Cru as it passes behind Titan. Additionally, the optical remote sensing instruments record hi-resolution northern latitude images of Titan's surface.

Jan. 30, 2006: Cassini reaches the highest inclination in the mission to date, at almost 59 degrees -- the highest until spring of 2008.

Feb. 22, 2007: Titan flyby (T25) -- another RADAR image of Titan's surface, which crisscrosses six other RADAR swaths (TA, T3, T16, T18, T19, and T23). The optical remote sensing instruments will be observing new territory north of Belet, Adiri, and Dimmun.

Feb. 27, 2007: "Strike a Pose" -- Imaging Science Subsystem (ISS) color mosaic image of Saturn looking down on the planet and its rings.

Mar. 10, 2007: Titan flyby (T26) -- during this low altitude flyby, the Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer (INMS) will be sniffing Titan's atmosphere to determine atmospheric and ionospheric composition and thermal structure. UVIS will also be imaging the Sun as it passes behind Titan.

Mar. 26, 2007: Titan flyby (T27) -- the Radio Science Subsystem (RSS) observes a nice pole-to-pole occultation, going in at -71.3 degrees and coming out at +54. The bistatic portion of the observation (bouncing a signal off the surface and returning it to Earth) is deep in the southern hemisphere.

Apr. 10, 2007: Titan flyby (T28) -- Cassini will again visit the same region visited in T25, and RADAR will continue to fill in the gaps in the image of Titan's surface.

Apr. 26, 2007: Titan flyby (T29) -- Cassini returns to the area north of a region on Titan called Aaru. Additionally, the imaging subsystem will attempt capture a high resolution global map of Titan's surface.

May 12, 2007: Titan flyby (T30) -- Cassini completes its tour of the Fensal/Aaru region on Titan with its highest resolution pass of the area, skimming just above Titan's thick atmosphere.

May 28, 2007: Titan flyby (T31) -- on this orbit, Cassini will repeat the Radio Science occultation experiments at three radio wavelengths to determine the physical properties of Titan's atmosphere. RSS observes a beautiful pole-to-pole occultation, going in at 75.4 degrees and coming out at +74.6. The bistatic portion of the observation (bouncing a signal off the surface and returning it to Earth) is deep in the southern hemisphere.

Jun. 11, 2007: Protective measures to ensure safe passage through an area of increased ring particle concentration. The High-Gain Antenna is used like an umbrella to shield the spacecraft.

Jun. 13, 2007: Titan flyby (T32) -- this rare flyby geometry will enable detailed sampling of Titan's atmosphere as well as allow for imaging of the Sun as it passes behind Titan.

Jun. 27, 2007: Tethys flyby -- the second of two close Tethys flybys during the Cassini spacecraft's prime mission. Imaging and spectroscopy observations will provide information on the huge gorge, Ithaca Chasma. Measurements of the winter pole will investigate the heat cycle on Tethys.

Jun. 27, 2007: Protective measures to ensure safe passage through an area of increased ring particle concentration. The High-Gain Antenna is used like an umbrella to shield the spacecraft.

Jun. 29, 2007: Titan flyby (T33) -- this is the third of four coordinated Radio Science flybys that explore the interior of Titan, looking for evidence of an internal ocean. T11, T22, and T38 are the others.

Jul. 19, 2007: Titan flyby (T34) -- the RSS bistatic observation (bouncing a signal off the surface and returning it to Earth) is just to the west of the Huygens landing site and is excellently placed with respect to the Brewster angle (the perfect angle for a bistatic experiment). The optical remote sensing instruments have the opportunity near closest approach for high resolution imaging of the surface. This is the last inbound (to Saturn) Titan flyby of the prime mission.

Aug. 21, 2007 (plus and minus 15 days): RSS will conduct a solar conjunction experiment where they monitor the long wavelength radio waves coming from the spacecraft as it passes behind the Sun.

Aug. 30, 2007: Rhea flyby -- the second of two close flybys of the icy moon Rhea, at a distance of about 5,500 kilometers (3,400 miles). This flyby will focus on imaging and spectroscopic measurements of the craters and cracks of Saturn's second largest moon. RADAR will measure Rhea's radar reflectivity and constrain the bulk density of the top decimeter (four inches) of the surface.

Aug. 31, 2007: Titan flyby (T35) -- another opportunity for the optical remote sensing instruments to have the time near closest approach for high resolution imaging of the surface, in particular images of the Huygens Landing site. VIMS looks at a star (Alpha Sco) as it slips behind Titan's atmosphere.

Sep. 10, 2007: Iapetus flyby -- one of the most exciting highlights of 2007! At about 1640 kilometers (1000 miles), this is Cassini's closest encounter with this enigmatic moon. High-resolution observations will be made of the boundary between the light and very dark regions, and of the mountainous ridge discovered in Cassini images from the December 2004 flyby.

Oct. 2, 2007: Titan flyby (T36) -- Cassini will skim the top of Titan's atmosphere, and along the way RADAR will be conducting scatterometry, radiometry, and altimetry experiments. The RADAR SAR swath will be the first in the southern hemisphere since T7 (September 2005).

Nov. 19, 2007: Titan flyby (T37) -- INMS will be sampling the upper atmosphere of Titan at closest approach, but the optical remote sensing instruments are also taking observations of Titan's atmosphere and surface near closest approach.

Dec. 5, 2007: Titan flyby (T38) -- this is the final of four coordinated Radio Science flybys that explore the interior of Titan, looking for evidence of an internal ocean. T11, T22, and T33 are the others.

Dec. 20, 2007: Titan flyby (T39) -- for the final flyby of the year, RADAR will be passing over a region known as Ontario Lacus in Titan's southern hemisphere, imaging geographical features in this area including possible lakes.

Read 2004-2006 years' highlights.