Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Getting Closer To The Lord Of The Rings

Date:
January 19, 2004
Source:
European Space Agency
Summary:
This time next year, ESA’s Huygens spaceprobe will be descending through the atmosphere of Saturn’s largest moon, becoming the first spacecraft to land on a body in the outer Solar System.

The Huygens probe descends through Titan's murky, brownish-orange atmosphere of nitrogen and carbon-based molecules, beaming its findings to the distant Cassini orbiter. (European Space Agency)

This time next year, ESA’s Huygens spaceprobe will be descending through the atmosphere of Saturn’s largest moon, becoming the first spacecraft to land on a body in the outer Solar System.

Related Articles


Earlier this month, the giant ringed planet Saturn was closer to Earth than it will be for the next thirty years. All the planets orbit the Sun as if on a giant racetrack, travelling in the same direction but in different lanes. Those in the outer lanes have further to travel than those on the inside lanes. So, Earth regularly ‘laps’ the further planets. On New Year’s Eve 2003, Earth overtook Saturn, drawing closer than at any time in the next three decades. Through a small telescope, Saturn is normally visible as a creamy yellow ‘star’. You may be able to see the ring system that the planet is famous for, and its largest moon Titan will show up as a tiny dot of light. That tiny dot is the destination for ESA’s Huygens probe and may hold vital clues about how life began on Earth. Titan is the only moon with a thick atmosphere in the Solar System.

Astronomers think this atmosphere might closely match the one Earth possessed millions of years ago, before life began. Certainly Titan’s atmosphere is rich in carbon, the chemical necessary for life on Earth. What is more, this is all stored in ‘deep freeze’, ten times further from the Sun than the Earth. The big mystery is Titan’s surface, which is hidden by a cloud layer. This is why ESA built Huygens, to probe through this layer which is impenetrable by Earth-based observations.

In January 2005, Huygens will parachute below the clouds to see what is really going on. Its battery of instruments will return over 1000 images as it floats down and samples the chemistry of this exotic place.

The Titan probe was named Huygens in honour of the Dutch astronomer who discovered Titan in 1655. Launched in October 1997, Huygens is currently in space, hitching a ride on NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. So look forward to seeing more of Saturn and a tiny European spacecraft called Huygens, that in one year’s time will make an historic landing in the quest to uncover the origins of life.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Space Agency. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

European Space Agency. "Getting Closer To The Lord Of The Rings." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 January 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040119081525.htm>.
European Space Agency. (2004, January 19). Getting Closer To The Lord Of The Rings. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 28, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040119081525.htm
European Space Agency. "Getting Closer To The Lord Of The Rings." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/01/040119081525.htm (accessed March 28, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Why So Many People Think NASA's Asteroid Mission Is A Waste

Why So Many People Think NASA's Asteroid Mission Is A Waste

Newsy (Mar. 27, 2015) The Asteroid Retrieval Mission announced this week bears little resemblance to its grand beginnings. Even NASA scientists are asking, "Why bother?" Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robot Returns from International Space Station and Sets Two Guinness World Records

Robot Returns from International Space Station and Sets Two Guinness World Records

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 27, 2015) The companion robot "Kirobo" returns to earth from the International Space Station and sets two Guinness World Records. Sharon Reich reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Supermassive Blackhole Detector Ready for Business

Supermassive Blackhole Detector Ready for Business

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 25, 2015) Construction of the world&apos;s largest and most powerful observatory designed to detect and analyze gamma rays has been completed in Mexico. Gamma ray particles are considered the most energetic in the universe and scientists hope to use the observatory to learn more about the supernovas and black holes that produce them. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rocket Blasts Off Carrying U.S. Air Force GPS Satellite

Rocket Blasts Off Carrying U.S. Air Force GPS Satellite

Reuters - News Video Online (Mar. 25, 2015) A U.S. Air Force GPS IIF-9 satellite launches aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket into semi-synchronous orbit. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins