In the early 1980s, when the two Voyager spacecraft skimmed past Titan, Saturn's largest moon, they transmitted back enticing images of a mysterious world concealed in a seemingly impenetrable orange haze. Titan Unveiled is one of the first general interest books to reveal the startling new discoveries that have been made since the arrival of the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn and Titan.
Ralph Lorenz and Jacqueline Mitton take readers behind the scenes of this mission. Launched in 1997, Cassini entered orbit around Saturn in summer 2004. Its formidable payload included the Huygens probe, which successfully parachuted down through Titan's atmosphere in early 2005, all the while transmitting images and data – and scientists were startled by what they saw. One of those researchers was Lorenz, who gives an insider's account of the scientific community's first close encounter with an alien landscape of liquid methane seas and turbulent orange skies. Amid the challenges and frayed nerves, new discoveries are made, including methane monsoons, equatorial sand seas, and Titan's polar hood. Lorenz and Mitton describe Titan as a world strikingly like Earth and tell how Titan may hold clues to the origins of life on our own planet and possibly to its presence on others.
Generously illustrated with many stunning images, Titan Unveiled is essential reading for anyone interested in space exploration, planetary science, or astronomy.
List of Illustrations and Tables vii
Chapter 1. The Lure of Titan 1
Chapter 2. Waiting for Cassini 21
Chapter 3. Cassini Arrives 67
Chapter 4. Cassini's First Taste of Titan 101
Chapter 5. Landing on Titan 132
Chapter 6. The Mission Goes On 174
Chapter 7. Where We Are and Where We Are Going 211
Afterword to the Paperback Edition 233
Appendix: Summary of Dynamical and Physical Data 255
Further Reading 257
Ralph Lorenz is a planetary scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. Jacqueline Mitton is a writer, editor, and media consultant in astronomy. They are the coauthors of Lifting Titan's Veil: Exploring the Giant Moon of Saturn.