CICLOPS: Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for OPerationS
Captain's Log
October 26, 2004

The Last Great Mystery

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.

Carolyn Porco
Cassini Imaging Team Leader
Space Science Institute
Boulder, CO

More Captain's Logs