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Space
Touching Titan

On Jan. 14, the Huygens probe descended for two-and-a-half hours through Titan’s atmosphere and landed on the satellite’s surface, becoming the first spacecraft ever to directly observe the moon. Little more than an hour after landing, the probe sent back its first shots of Saturn’s largest moon.

Just weeks prior, on Dec. 25, the probe had broken off from Cassini, the spacecraft that had carried it to Saturn, to enter the atmosphere of Titan. Traveling around Titan at 14,000 miles per hour for 21 days, the probe gathered information about the satellite’s hazy atmosphere, which is believed to resemble the early atmosphere of Earth and is potentially the most likely spot in this solar system to find extraterrestrial life.

As Cassini continues to orbit Saturn and Huygens observes Titan, more images will become available for analysis. Stay tuned to Geotimes online for continuing coverage.

"Huygens touches down on Titan," Geotimes Web Extra, Jan. 14, 2005

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