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.
"Titan Unveiled describes how most of what we once hypothesized about Titan has been proved wrong. The story of how we gained our current knowledge is fascinating; even more intriguing is what remains to be learned."--Henry Roe, Nature
"Ralph Lorenz . . . has teamed with veteran science journalist Jaqueline Mitton to convey both the human and scientific drama of remote robotic space exploration."--Laurence A. Marschall, Natural History
"Lorenz, a planetary scientist, and Mitton, a science writer, vividly describe this encounter with an alien landscape; excerpts from Lorenz's log convey what it was like to be involved with the mission."--Scientific American
"[A]n engrossing firsthand account of one of humankind's greatest adventures of recent years. It will take decades to prepare a new mission and then an additional seven years for another spacecraft to reach titan. In the meantime, Titan Unveiled provides the general reader with a lively narrative that combines a reliable, nontechnical account of the Cassini-Huygens mission with personal and often intimate insights into these efforts to explore a fascinating planetary analogue to the Earth."--Fred Taylor, American Scientist
"[A]n enjoyable mix: a very accessible summary of current knowledge about Titan is combined with a firsthand account that gives a flavour of what it has been like to be part of this grand, bold, international collaboration that is the Cassini-Huygens project."--Times Higher Education
Table of Contents:
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
Appendix: Summary of Dynamical and Physical Data 233
Further Reading 235
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File created: 3/28/2014