Ten Years Ago

Huygens_descentThese images of Saturn’s moon Titan were taken on 14 January, 2005 by the Huygens probe at four different altitudes. The images are flattened (Mercator) projections of the view from the descent imager/spectral radiometer on the probe as it landed on Titan’s surface.

Ten years ago, Huygens parachuted into the haze of the alien moon toward an uncertain fate. After a gentle descent lasting more than two hours, it landed with a thud on a frigid floodplain surrounded by icy cobblestones. This was the first landing on a moon in the outer solar system, Titan, the largest moon of Saturn.

Image Credit: ESA / NASA


titan_surfaceNo, this isn’t a picture from Mars. It’s from Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. This view taken by the Huygens lander on the moon’s surface shows pebble-sized objects thought to be rocks or ice blocks. The two objects just below the middle of the image are about 150 mm and 40 mm across, respectively, and are about 840 mm from Huygens. The surface is darker than originally expected and made up of a mixture of water and hydrocarbon ice. There is also evidence of erosion at the base of the objects.

Image Credit: ESA/NASA