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University of Idaho Team Helps View Saturn Moon

titan, a moon of Saturn
Titan. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)
It takes Saturn 30 years to orbit the Sun. That means each season is 7 1/2 years long.

The Earth orbits the Sun in one year, with the four seasons (winter, spring, summer, fall) only months long. That’s an interesting piece of trivia.

However, weather moves very slowly because of the long orbit. Ever since the Cassini spacecraft bean orbiting Saturn in 2004, an obscuring cloudy dome has been the main feature of Titan’s north pole. Now, as summer arrives, the clouds have cleared. That, and a better angle for the photos have shown new pictures of liquid methane and ethane seas and lakes near the north pole. The detailed images were released in September.

Jason Barnes, an associate professor of the University of Idaho Physics Department is part of the visual and spectrometer team for Cassini. Barnes is joined on the team by UI’s Matt Hedman, an assistant physics professor. They have help from four students at the Moscow, Idaho, school – Graham Vixie, Casey Cook, Corbin Hennen and Shannon MacKenzie.

In a news release from the University of Idaho, the scientists theorized that parts of Titan’s lakes and seas have evaporated, leaving behind landscapes like Earth’s salt flats.

Cassini has been in the Saturn system since 2004 and the Cassini-Huygens mission is a NASA, European Space Agency and Italian Space Agency project.

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