Friday, January 14, 2005


Cassini-Huygens probe is landing on Titan

The parachute of the Cassini-Huygens probe should have just opened. It still has ~180km to go before it lands on Titan's surface in a couple of hours (13:34 CET). Then it will collect data for a couple of hours before it starts sending them at 16:14 if it survives the landing.

What can the probe expect to see? Nobody knows for sure. Titan has a huge atmosphere that is three times taller than Earth's filled with organic compounds similar to smog. NASA has more information on what the the Titan parachute mission can expect to find:

Icy mountains? Liquid methane seas? Hot lightning? "It's anyone's guess," says Jonathan Lunine, a professor of planetary science at the University of Arizona and a member of the Huygens science team. "We might not even understand what we see, not immediately."

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