Titan Flyby 1

Today, Cassini made its closest approach yet to Titan, which I call Saturn’s Fuzzy Moon. The pictures will be coming in tonight, and maybe now we’ll know if the moon really does have oceans of oil*, in which case we’ll soon be invading. (* Yes, yes, I know, they’re not strictly oils made from the decay of fossils, but simpler hydrocarbons.)

Cassini also scoped out the Huygens probe’s future landing spot. If Huygens enters Titan’s atmosphere correctly and is able to transmit back, we’ll have our first closeup visual — and audio! — data from Titan in mid-January 2005. If the probe is especially lucky, it might even splash down in a hyrdocarbon sea, and “float” there indefinitely.

More on Spaceflight Now, and discussion on Slashdot.