View Full Version : Huygens Lands on Titan!

Leo M
01-14-2005, 11:44 AM
Another triumph for NASA and ESA! This morning the Huygens probe successfully landed on Titan. The initial data is already coming in.

After seven years of travel, over billions of miles, with four gravity-assisted maneuvers (Venus twice, Earth, and Jupiter), the Cassini craft released the Huygens probe to descend through the cryogenic atmosphere of Saturn’s largest moon, land on the surface of the most exotic place ever directly explored by human instrumentality, and send back data enough (we do certainly hope) to keep scientists busy for generations.

This is IT, folks. This is what First is all about. Inspiration just doesn't come in a bigger package than this.

At a time when unremittingly bad news engulfs us with mudslides, earthquakes, tsunamis, and war; at a time when humanity stands at the crossroads between civilization and barbarity; at a time when our simple need is for something, somewhere to turn out right; the scientific community has given us a reason to say “Well done!”.

Usually I would not presume to speak for others, but in this case I think I can safely state that the entire First community stands in awe of this singular achievement. And feeling the need to put a human face on things, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Dr. Dave Lavery (who would, I know, be the last person ever to take credit for this; however, his is the name I associate with planetary exploration), and the entire group of scientists, engineers, and technicians whose vision and plain hard work allow us to point with pride to a success based not on overcoming an enemy, but on working together to uncover the secrets of nature. Bravo!

And for the students coming along – you can do the same!

Aim for the stars – you just might hit a planet.

01-14-2005, 01:24 PM
I don't know too much about this project but do we get pictures from the lander?

Anthony Kesich
01-14-2005, 01:49 PM
I am assuming the pictures will be available some time soon, for they are probably still sorting through the data. I just read the article on BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4175099.stm) and the first data was recieved early this morning (around 2:00 Pacific). And there is no lack of pictures either. During the decent, the lander snapped 1,100 pictures. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like the robot landed on/in anything wet so we won't know right away, but there is much data left to analyze. Hopefully, some water will be found.

Here's to crossing your fingers and hoping for the best.

-Tony K

01-14-2005, 02:06 PM
Yeah I was really excited once I saw that on the front page of MSNBC.com. The world really needs something like this to distract us a little from all of the violence and wars going on right now... I can't wait for the pictures to show up on a slideshow on msnbc.

Leo M
01-14-2005, 02:17 PM
Here's the address of the ESA site:

The JPL site is at :

Don't know when they'll get the first photo's posted -
lots of data reduction going on right now, I'll bet.

01-14-2005, 02:25 PM
First Picture:

Kris Verdeyen
01-14-2005, 03:54 PM
Found this one too - amazing to think about something flying that far and sending back pictures.


01-14-2005, 03:58 PM
this is like the best news today for me--this is way cool--i'm glad the photos are finally coming out so we can see the images. great job for NASA and ESA-- so cool what we can do-- so many neat things are happening during our generation :)

01-14-2005, 04:20 PM
This in not one of my missions, but the NASA Program Executive that is in charge of Cassini-Huygens sits right next to my office. Mark is over in Europe right now, with the ESA folks pouring over the images as they come in. We have been watching this closely all day, ever since my division director came in my office first thing this morning and said we had carrier signal from the spacecraft all the way down to the surface. Some of the latest photos can be seen here (http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/main/index.html) and on the Cassini web site (http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Cassini-Huygens/index.html). Fresh pictures from one of the moons of Saturn, showing apparent erosion channels, shorelines, ice blocks, and potential flooded plains. How cool is that?!!

Jeez, I love my job! :)

01-14-2005, 04:40 PM
ice, floods? Do you mean past or present? H20 or something else?

01-14-2005, 06:15 PM
Congratulations to NASA the ESA and all involved in this milestone of science and engineering. Reports indicate that the probes batteries were designed to last only minutes after touchdown but continued to power the probe for over 2 hours. Any chance we can have THOSE batteries in the kit next year????

Leo M
01-14-2005, 07:24 PM
I can think of no superlatives adequate to the task - stunning, stupendous, fabulous - all seem so small in the face of these wonderful pictures from the strangest world humanity has ever visited. The technical achievement is fantastic in itself, but the questions that come out of it - these will occupy us for years to come. Future scientists may look back on this day as the one that inspired them to pursue the road to knowledge and discovery; the day they realized that they, too, can unlock mysteries hidden for untold millenia; make discoveries equal to that of Columbus or Magellan; push back the darkness.

I can only pray that we will have those years, and that we will choose a way other than the dark and descending path to barbarism. I am only one small man. I have no special influence in the mad world of power and politics. I do not possess any remarkable skills or knowledge. I know of no sure, certain way of stopping the whirl of the insane merry-go-round of war and ignorance so that progress as embodied in the Cassini-Huygens mission can continue. My hope is that by participating in First I might add my bit of weight to the right side of the scale; nudge things just a little more towards the light.

Dave, thanks for helping to show us that light. You, and all the others.

You give me hope. We may yet endure.