Apr 27, 2017: 'Rev 271' Raw Preview - These raw unprocessed views were captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft during its first Grand Finale dive past the planet on April 26, 2017.
Apr 24, 2017: Titan 'Rev 270' Raw Preview - NASA's Cassini spacecraft has made its last close brush with Saturn's hazy moon Titan and is now beginning its final set of 22 orbits around the ringed planet. These raw, unprocessed images of Titan, were taken on April 22, 2017. (Image Advisory can be found here.)
Star Date: October 26, 2004
Here we are. Wondering and waiting.
Nearly half a century of exploring the bodies in orbit around our Sun has brought us to this point ... staring down Saturn's largest moon, the last, great mystery our solar system has to offer.
To us planetary explorers, Titan is a world apart. No other place we could visit, no other body we might study could present us with the possibilities promised by this cold, organic-rich and smoggy place.
In images taken on approach only a day ago, we have seen Titan's surface with greater clarity than we had in early July because of the more favorable viewing conditions of this encounter. While regions here and there may be reminiscent of other planetary bodies -- a boundary here that resembles a terrestrial shoreline, a marking there that reminds us of Neptune's satellite Triton -- in the end, this moon looks like no other place we've ever seen.
We are closer to Titan now than we've ever been before. The images we are expecting to receive should show details 10 times smaller, or better, than the best we have now.
This is history in the making. We will never be this innocent, or this ignorant, again. In a matter of hours, the solar system will become a very much smaller place.