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Published on Jan 14, 2010
Five years ago today, ESA's Huygens probe descended to the surface of Titan, Saturn's largest moon. Today planetary scientists from around the world have gathered in Barcelona to discuss the legacy of Huygens and to consider future Titan exploration missions.
This movie, built with data collected during ESA Huygens' mission at Titan on 14 January 2005, shows the operation of the DISR camera during its descent up to touch-down. The almost 4-hour long operation of DISR is shown in less than five minutes - 40 times the actual speed up to landing and 100 times the actual speed thereafter (for a complete description click here: http://esamultimedia.esa.int/images/c... ).
The first part of the movie shows how Titan looked to DISR as it acquired more and more images during the probe's descent. Each DISR image has a small field of view, and dozens of images were made into mosaics of the whole scene.
The scientists analysed Huygens' speed, direction of motion, rotation and swinging during descent. The DISR movie includes sidebar graphics that show:
(Lower left corner) Huygens' trajectory views from the south, a scale bar for comparison to the height of Mount Everest, colored arrows that point to the sun and to the Cassini orbiter.
(Top left corner) A close-up view of the Huygens probe highlighting large and unexpected parachute movements, and a scale bar for comparison to human height.
(Lower right corner) A compass that shows the changing direction of view as Huygens rotates, along with the relative positions of the sun and Cassini.
(Upper right corner) A clock that shows Universal Time for Jan. 14, 2005 (Universal Time is two hours earlier with respect to Central European Summer Time). Above the clock, events are listed in Mission Time, which starts with the deployment of the first of the three parachutes.
Sounds from a left speaker trace Huygens' motion, with tones changing with rotational speed and the tilt of the parachute. There also are clicks that clock the rotational counter, as well as sounds for the probe's heat shield hitting Titan's atmosphere, parachute deployments, heat shield release, jettison of the DISR cover and touch-down.
Sounds from a right speaker go with DISR activity. There's a continuous tone that represents the strength of Huygens' signal to Cassini. Then there are 13 different chimes - one for each of DISR's 13 different science parts - that keep time with flashing-white-dot exposure counters.
During its descent, DISR took 3500 exposures.
Video by Erich Karkoschka, University of Arizona, USA.