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Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Titan: 10 years after contact....

It's been a grim week in Europe - I'll say no more because, if you follow the news at all, you know exactly what I'm talking about. But that makes it all the more important to celebrate the awesomeness of things that are good, and the achievements that are great. And this Wednesday we have the anniversary of something very awesome to celebrate:

Landing on Titan:

Above: Titan, as seen with Cassini's haze piercing infra red camera.

The first ever landing of a space vehicle from Earth - The European Huygens probe -  on Saturn's largest moon: The  mysterious, organic haze shrouded, Titan.

Above: The descent of the Huygens lander to the surface of Titan. At first the view is a fish-eye view from the bottom of the lander, with all sorts of technical stuff flashing up, and the radio noise of Huygens  talking to its Cassini mothership. Then the view  switches as the probe lands, in a 'sand' of ice particles, soaked with liquid methane, and coated in hydrocarbon gunk.

The Huygens probe is still the furthest craft to ever land on another world, and it was sent as part of the Cassini mission - a collaboration between NASA and the European Space Agency. The bus sized Cassini probe is still orbiting Saturn, exploring all its complex moons from above. But Huygens showed us a ground level view of a world that turned out to be a frozen, twisted, reflection of Earth. A world with seas of natural gas that have no waves, 'magic islands' that appear and disappear, and a chemistry so complex some scientists believe it may be similar to that which gave rise to life on Earth.

Beagle 2 may be found:
Above: The beagle 2 space probe. Not the real one, obviously, as it's probably in bits at the bottom of a hole on Mars.

It's also fun to celebrate bold and brave failures: The Beagle 2 space probe to mars was one of these. the mission vanished in 2003, but the buzz on the internet is that its landing (or probably crash landing) site may have been spotted by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter mission. We should hear for sure on Friday!


The new Avengers trailer is out! 'Nuff said.

Above: Stark put on weight.....

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