After a seven-year journey on board the NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini spacecraft, ESA’s Huygens probe was released on 25 December 2004. It reached the upper layer of Titans atmosphere on 14 January 2005 and landed on the surface after a parachute descent of 2 hours and 28 minutes.
Clear images of the surface were obtained below 40 km altitude – revealing an extraordinary world, resembling Earth in many respects, especially in meteorology, geomorphology and fluvial activity. The images show strong evidence for erosion due to liquid flows, possibly methane, on Titan.
The probe descended over the boundary between a bright icy terrain eroded by fluvial activity, and a darker area that looked like a dry river- or lakebed. Huygens landed in the dark area. Water-ice pebbles up to a few centimetres in diameter were scattered near the landing site, and the surface here was found to have the consistency of loose wet sand.
Franco Bonacina | alfa
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