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After 7 years of space flight with Cassini and a half-month of flight
by itself (since Dec. 25), the Huygens probe has landed on the surface of Saturn's moon Titan.
Since 5:25 AM EST, the probe has been sending back a carrier signal
was picked up by the Green Bank radio telescope in West Virginia, US.
This signal was the probe's way of telling us that it was alive. It
contained no scientific data (by design). The probe descended through
atmosphere as it told us that its back cover was off as planned. It
then released a large parachute, and later, a smaller one to
help slow it down before it landed.
|An artist's rendition of Huygens.|
Credit: Universe Today
At approximately 11:19 AM the ESA received scientific data from the
probe. This was humankind's first attempt at landing on anything in the
outer solar system. It is worthy of note that Huygens has already
outlived its expected lifetime, as many had predicted that Huygens
would land on a hydrocarbon sea and sink immediately. The ESA is
analyzing the data being forwarded by Cassini, from which we hope to
gain a greater understanding of this planet-sized moon with such a high
content of hydrocarbons. If the mission is successful, it may lead to
further attempts in quests for life on Titan, where there are more of
the right chemicals for life than perhaps any other place in the Solar
System except Earth, and perhaps Mars.
As more news and pictures arrive, we will post updates. Our congratulations to the ESA for a job well done.
(More info: Universe Today)
- posted by Jim @ 13:15 EST