Cassini Huygens Misson: Last Phase

Dec 21, 2004
Huygens probe separating to enter Titan's atmosphere

The NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini Huygens mission to Saturn, which has already delivered stunning images and data of the ringed planet following insertion into the Saturnian system on 1st July this year, is poised to enter a crucial stage in its voyage of scientific discovery. In the early hours of Christmas morning [25t December] the Huygens probe will separate from the orbiter, its home for the last seven years, and coast towards Titan where it will parachute down through the nitrogen-rich atmosphere of Saturns largest moon.

On the 14th of January 2005, Huygens will arrive on Titan's surface some 2.5 hours after entering the atmosphere - although the exact nature of its final resting place remains a mystery. Scientists speculate that Huygens may find lakes or even oceans of a mixture of liquid ethane, methane and nitrogen.

On Christmas Day 2004, Cassini is scheduled to release its passenger Huygens with a gentle push to start its unpowered coast to Titan.

The surface of Titan is still a mystery and scientists don't know what sort of surface Huygens will encounter. It could splash down on a sea of liquid methane, crash on frozen ice and rocks or gently squelch down in extraterrestrial slime.

Source: PPARC

Explore further: SpaceX launches supplies to space station

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cassini captures familiar forms on Titan's dunes

Apr 08, 2014

(Phys.org) —The moons of our Solar System are brimming with unusual landscapes. However, sometimes they look a little more familiar, as in this new radar image from the Cassini orbiter. The image shows ...

Image: Quintet of moons

Nov 05, 2013

(Phys.org) —Five moons pose for the international Cassini spacecraft to create this beautiful portrait with Saturn's rings.

Mystery of the missing waves on Titan

Jul 23, 2013

One of the most shocking discoveries of the past 10 years is how much the landscape of Saturn's moon Titan resembles Earth. Like our own blue planet, the surface of Titan is dotted with lakes and seas; it ...

Cassini sees precursors to aerosol haze on Titan

Jun 06, 2013

(Phys.org) —Scientists working with data from NASA's Cassini mission have confirmed the presence of a population of complex hydrocarbons in the upper atmosphere of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, that later ...

Forecast for Titan: Wild weather could be ahead

May 22, 2013

(Phys.org) —Saturn's moon Titan might be in for some wild weather as it heads into its spring and summer, if two new models are correct. Scientists think that as the seasons change in Titan's northern hemisphere, ...

Recommended for you

Quest for extraterrestrial life not over, experts say

17 hours ago

The discovery of an Earth-sized planet in the "habitable" zone of a distant star, though exciting, is still a long way from pointing to the existence of extraterrestrial life, experts said Friday. ...

Sun emits a mid-level solar flare

17 hours ago

The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 9:03 a.m. EDT on April 18, 2014, and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful ...

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

19 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...

The importance of plumes

19 hours ago

The Hubble Space Telescope is famous for finding black holes. It can pick out thousands of galaxies in a patch of sky the size of a thumbprint. The most powerful space telescope ever built, the Hubble provided ...

Continents may be a key feature of Super-Earths

21 hours ago

Huge Earth-like planets that have both continents and oceans may be better at harboring extraterrestrial life than those that are water-only worlds. A new study gives hope for the possibility that many super-Earth ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Impact glass stores biodata for millions of years

(Phys.org) —Bits of plant life encapsulated in molten glass by asteroid and comet impacts millions of years ago give geologists information about climate and life forms on the ancient Earth. Scientists ...

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.