content 22-October-2017 11:49:34

Huygens: the top 10 discoveries at Titan

On 14 January 2005, at 13:34 CET (12:34 UTC), ESA's Huygens probe entered the history books by descending to the surface of Titan, Saturn's largest moon. This was humanity's first successful attempt to land a probe on another world in the outer Solar System.

Huygens hitched a ride to the Saturn system during an epic, seven-year voyage attached to NASA's Cassini spacecraft. The final chapter of the interplanetary trek was a 21-day solo cruise toward the haze-shrouded moon. Plunging into Titan's atmosphere, the probe survived the hazardous 2 hour 27 minute descent to touch down safely on Titan's frozen surface.

The Huygens experience: a simulation of the final part of Huygens' descent through Titan's atmosphere before it landed on the surface. Click here for video details. Credit: Animation: ESA-C. Carreau/Schröder, Karkoschka et al. (2012). Image from Titan's surface: ESA/NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Huygens continued to transmit back to Earth for another 72 minutes before contact was lost with Cassini as it dipped below the horizon. The stream of data provided a unique treasure trove of in situ measurements from the planet-sized satellite which scientists are still mining today. In the following articles we present 10 important results from the pioneering mission.

 

Science highlights from Huygens
#1. Profiling the atmosphere of Titan
#2. Superrotating winds
#3. Methane mystery
#4. The origin of Titan's nitrogen atmosphere
#5. Radioactive decay and cryovolcanism
#6. Hazy Titan
#7. Titan's tiny aerosols
#8. Dry river beds and lakes
#9. Schumann-like resonances: hints of subsurface ocean
#10. Elusive dunes

 


Last Update: 11 January 2017

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