Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

UK scientists get a "whiff" of Titan’s surface

24.01.2005


Further insights into Titan were unveiled today (21st January 2005) as scientists involved in the joint NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini-Huygens mission presented further results and images a week to the day after the successful descent and arrival of the Huygens probe on the surface of Saturn’s largest moon.



Principal Investigator for the Huygens Surface Science Package [SSP], Professor John Zarnecki from the Open University, Milton Keynes, has spent the last week with his team analysing and interpreting the data.

Speaking at a press briefing from ESA’s Headquarters in Paris he said: “The Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer has detected a ‘whiff’ of methane evaporating off the surface and the SSP data has also shown indications of gas flowing into its sensing area. These gaseous outbursts were released as heat generated by Huygens warmed the soil beneath the probe. This is a tantalising glimpse of the processes at work on Titan and shows how the weather systems operate with methane forming clouds and raining down on to the surface - producing the drainage channels, river beds and other features that we see in the images.


We are continuing to analyse the data from our penetrometer - the very first instrument to touch the surface of Titan - it then pushed through the crust to a depth of 10 to 15cm. Results indicate that beneath the thin crust lies a material with the consistency of sand or clay - but made of water ice grains rather than the rock grains that we find on Earth.”

Prof. Zarnecki added, “All of the instruments are producing intriguing results which, when combined, will begin to build a fascinating picture of this exotic World - with its unique geology, geography and even meteorology. The more we see the more there is to find out. We have only looked at a fraction of the data received - there is much more to study.”

After a 4 billion kilometre journey through the Solar System that lasted almost 7 years, the Huygens probe plunged into the hazy atmosphere of Titan at 10.13 GMT on 14th January 2005. It landed safely on the surface at 12.45 GMT with an impact speed of 5m per second. It continued transmitting from the surface for several hours, even after the Cassini orbiter dropped below the horizon and stopped recording data to relay back to Earth. The Surface Science Package of instruments on Huygens received 1 hour, 9 minutes and 36 seconds worth of data from the surface.

The science data received by Huygens will provide the vital ‘ground truth’ for the Cassini spacecraft as it continues its scientific observations of Titan during its 4-year tour of Saturn.

The Surface Science Package, designed and assembled in the UK (in partnership with ESTEC and SRC Warsaw), was the first part of the Huygens probe to make contact with Titan’s surface.

Julia Maddock | alfa
Further information:
http://www.pparc.ac.uk/Nw/titan_whiff.asp
http://saturn.esa.int

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Structured light and nanomaterials open new ways to tailor light at the nanoscale
23.04.2018 | Academy of Finland

nachricht On the shape of the 'petal' for the dissipation curve
23.04.2018 | Lobachevsky University

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Structured light and nanomaterials open new ways to tailor light at the nanoscale

23.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

On the shape of the 'petal' for the dissipation curve

23.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Clean and Efficient – Fraunhofer ISE Presents Hydrogen Technologies at the HANNOVER MESSE 2018

23.04.2018 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>