Skip to main content

On This Day in Space! Oct. 26, 2004: Cassini spacecraft takes 1st closeups of Titan

On Oct. 26, 2004, NASA's Cassini spacecraft took the first close-up images of Saturn's largest moon Titan

The Cassini spacecraft would later drop off a probe on Titan named Huygens, which was a European spacecraft that hitched a ride to the Saturn system with the Cassini mission. But before Cassini dropped off its robotic passenger, it flew by Titan a few times and took some amazing photos. 

Related: Amazing Photos: Titan, Saturn's Largest Moon 

Titan as it appears from space in visible light. NASA's Cassini spacecraft captured this view in January 2013, when it was about 895,000 miles (1.44 million kilometers) from the big moon. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute)

Cassini completed its first flyby on July 3, 2004, but when it swung by a second time on Oct. 26, it got about 300 times closer than it did the first time. At the closest point of this flyby, Cassini was 745 miles away from the surface of Titan. The spacecraft took hundreds of photos during this flyby, and these were the highest resolution views of Titan anyone had ever seen.

Catch up on our entire "On This Day In Space" series on YouTube with this playlist.  

On This Day in Space Archive! 

Still not enough space? Don't forget to check out our Space Image of the Day, and on the weekends our Best Space Photos and Top Space News Stories of the week

Email Hanneke Weitering at or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. 

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at:

Hanneke Weitering

Hanneke Weitering is an editor at with 10 years of experience in science journalism. She has previously written for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, MedPage Today and The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After studying physics at the University of Tennessee in her hometown of Knoxville, she earned her graduate degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) from New York University. Hanneke joined the team in 2016 as a staff writer and producer, covering topics including spaceflight and astronomy. She currently lives in Seattle, home of the Space Needle, with her cat and two snakes. In her spare time Hanneke likes to explore the Rocky Mountains, basking in nature and looking for dark skies to gaze at the cosmos. 

  • The Exoplanets Channel
    Very interesting
  • Arc Light
    Just so you know, the X-15 took off from Edwards AFB under the wing of a B-52 & was airdropped over Delamar Dry Lake, Nevada. The flight to the altitude record wasn't planned, but the rocket engine burned for two seconds longer than expected. The test flight was scheduled to peak at 280,000', but actually reached 314, 750' due to the extra rocket burn time.
  • Fourth Root
    Misleading wording. Bob White did not set the world altitude record on July 17th, 1962. Four Astronauts and two cosmonauts had flown higher prior to his flight. One could say it was the highest manned flight of a winged craft. But that's not the wording that was used.
  • DrRaviSharma
    On this date in 1969, I was part of NASA Apollo Team

    Contributed to Experiments in orbit and on Surface of Moon (ALSEP) etc.also trained astronauts

    Studied containation on and ouside Spacecraft.

    The Moon gave me employment to work for 5 Years on exciting Human Space flight Programs Skylab, Planning of Space Station and Space Shuttle

    See My picture taken with Buzz Aldrin in 2009
    I received Apollo Achievement Award from NASA dated July 20, 1969.

    Thanks Hanneke Weitering for today's Historic post

    Dr. Ravi Sharma
  • Mergatroid
    "Allegedly, the moon turns green because of its close proximity to Uranus"

    I'm sorry about that. I hear they have been investigating x-rays from the same source. I had no idea. I'll get a doctor to check into it.

    Sorry everyone.