After a 7 year journey, Cassini/ Huygens arrived at Saturn in 2004 and Huygens landed on the surface of Titan on January 14th 2005. The only moon within the solar system known to have a substantial atmosphere.
On Monday 3rd of July 1989 it was possible to study the atmosphere of Titan from here on Earth when it occulted a 5.8mag star 28 Sagittarius. Ken Irving from Salford Astronomical Society describes the observation he made and video recording of the unexpected central flash. Available below.
Using data from the onboard Acoustic Sensor Unit, the Planetary Society compressed Huygens two and half hour descent into a 10 second audio clip.
After landing, Huygens continued to transmit data including those incredible pictures of the surface for another 70 minutes until the communication link to Earth – Cassini disappeared over the horizon. It would not come in range again for 40 days by when Huygens’ batteries were dead. There in its dark cold -180C deep freeze it remains. Probably intact. Professor John Zarnecki from the Open University who lead the Surface Science Package team talk a little about the achievements f the Cassini/Huygens mission.
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Ray Goodwin says
So glad to learn about Astrotalk Uk. I met Professor Zarnecki when I went to a conference at ESTEC in the Netherlands. A very kind and dedicated scientist. I was thrilled yesterday evening Thursday 7 ~June 2012 to watch the presentation on BBC Channel 4 TV Destination Titan. I recommend it to everyone. Dr Zarnecki featured in the 1 hour programme. It took me back to that wonderful day on 14th January 2005 when it was announced that the Huygens Probe had landed on Titan. I am a keen follower of all things scientific and have composed a website http://www.visionsofthecosmos.co.uk. i am now composing one on life in the cosmos and would welcome any help in particular with the computer side. (I hold a degree in Biochemistry but am not a computer expert!!!). Please contact me on my e-mail email@example.com. I would also be interested in giving a talt on exoplanets and life in the cosmos. See my website page http://www.visionsofthecosmos.co.uk/SETI.htm