Thursday, January 24, 2013

Through the clouds of Titan

Eight years ago now, on January 14th, 2005, the robotic probe Huygens separated from its carrier (the robotic probe Cassini) and plummeted towards Saturn's largest moon Titan. After several hours of falling through space it entered Titan's atmosphere and eventually made a controlled landing by parachute, and in the process gave us our very first glimpse of the surface of this remote and distant world. Titan is perpetually shrouded in thick orange clouds, making its surface impossible to see in visible light. Now, for the first time that I know of, some talented people at NASA, ESA, JPL, and the University of Arizona have stitched together the images Huygens got as it descended into a movie, starting from when it first separated from Cassini. It's really quite fascinating to watch, and very beautiful as well.

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