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NASA's Cassini spacecraft buzzed Titan last year, coming close enough to taste the Saturnian moon's atmosphere. The data acquired has implications for our understanding of life throughout the galaxy, as well as Earth's own past.
Meanwhile, just this month astronomers used the NSF-supported Gemini Observatory to capture the first images of clouds over Titan's tropics. The images clarify a long-standing mystery linking Titan's weather and surface features, viewed by some scientists as an analog to Earth when our planet was young.
The effort also served as the latest demonstration of adaptive optics, which use deformable mirrors to enable NSF's suite of ground-based telescopes to capture images that in some cases exceed the resolution of images captured by space-based counterparts.