AstroTalk Episode July 28, 2016


3:06pm - 3:54pm

Signals can reveal marvelous things. The Cassini spacecraft, which has been in orbit in the Saturn system for many years, uses interesting techniques to study Saturn's moon Titan. Radio, light and radar signals from Cassini are bounced off Titan, and then received on Earth on the Deep Space Network (DSN). The way that these signals are bounced or absorbed reveals telling features about Titan. These can features relate to the chemical composition of Titan's atmosphere, the density or temperature of the constituents of the gases in Titan's atmosphere, the composition of the seas and rivers on Titan's surface, as well as the make-up of the sea beds. Scientists are also using these techniques to study the atmospheres of exoplanets. When the light of a host star shines through the atmospheres of theses distant exoplanets, scientists can use techniques they have developed from studying Titan's features, to study the features of exoplanets, which reside many, many light years from Earth.