Planetary science: Huygens rediscovers Titan

  title={Planetary science: Huygens rediscovers Titan},
  author={Tobias C. Owen},
  • T. Owen
  • Published 8 December 2005
  • Physics
  • Nature
The first analyses of data sent by the Huygens probe from Saturn's largest moon Titan are flooding in. They paint a picture of a ‘Peter Pan’ world — potentially like Earth, but with its development frozen at an early stage.New views of TitanThe Huygens probe landed on Titan on 14 January this year, and seven papers published in this issue record the encounter. They describe a world that resembles a primitive Earth, complete with weather systems and geological activity. The ‘Huygens on Titan… 

Life in the Saturnian Neighborhood

The Cassini–Huygens mission has revealed a very active and diverse Saturnian system in which several satellites show promising conditions for habitability and the development and/or maintenance of

Titan Exploration Using a Radioisotopically‐Heated Montgolfiere Balloon

This paper describes results of a recent Titan exploration mission study; one which includes an aerial vehicle in the form of a hot air balloon, or montgolfiere. Unlike terrestrial montgolfieres

Secrets of a Cloudy Moon . . .

THE YEAR 2005 will be remembered in the history of space exploration for the first landing of a probe on a surface in the outer solar system - on 14 January, the Huygens probe landed on the surface

Titan Wind Analysis using Lagrangian Coherent Structures

Since 2004, the Cassini-Huygens mission has been providing pictures of Titan's striking landscape of sand dunes and hydrocarbon lakes. Subsequently there have been plans for a return mission

Access to glacial and subglacial environments in the Solar System by melting probe technology

A key aspect for understanding the biological and biochemical environment of subglacial waters, on Earth or other planets and moons in the Solar system, is the analysis of material embedded in or

Models of the protosatellite disk of Saturn: Conditions for Titan’s formation

Models of the protosatellite accretion disk of Saturn are developed that satisfy cosmochemical constraints on the volatile abundances in the atmospheres of Saturn and Titan with due regard for the

Question 2: Why an Astrobiological Study of Titan Will Help Us Understand the Origin of Life

  • F. Raulin
  • Physics, Geology
    Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres
  • 2007
Titan, the largest satellite of Saturn and the only planetary body with an atmosphere similar to that of the Earth is one of the places of prime interest for these astrobiological questions.

Valley formation and methane precipitation rates on Titan

Branching valley networks near the landing site of the Huygens probe on Titan imply that fluid has eroded the surface. The fluid was most likely methane, which forms several percent of Titan's

The Titan Huygens Probe mission

Targets of NASA and ESA missions are typically identified years before a project ever kicks off. Cassini-Huygens was no exception to this. As Trina Ray, co-chair of the Titan Orbiter Science Team



An overview of the descent and landing of the Huygens probe on Titan

An overview of the Huygens mission is reported, which enabled studies of the atmosphere and surface, including in situ sampling of the organic chemistry, and revealed an Earth-like landscape.

Rain, winds and haze during the Huygens probe's descent to Titan's surface

Spectra and high-resolution images obtained by the Huygens Probe Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer instrument in Titan's atmosphere reveal the traces of once flowing liquid, and like Earth, the brighter highland regions show complex systems draining into flat, dark lowlands.

The abundances of constituents of Titan's atmosphere from the GCMS instrument on the Huygens probe

Direct atmospheric measurements from the Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer (GCMS), including altitude profiles of the constituents, isotopic ratios and trace species (including organic compounds), were reported, confirming the primary constituents were confirmed to be nitrogen and methane.

Imaging of Titan from the Cassini spacecraft

Observations of Titan from the imaging science experiment onboard the Cassini spacecraft reveal intricate surface albedo features that suggest aeolian, tectonic and fluvial processes, and imply that substantial surface modification has occurred over Titan's history.

A soft solid surface on Titan as revealed by the Huygens Surface Science Package

Measurements made just above and on the surface of Titan by the Huygens Surface Science Package reveal a relatively smooth, but not completely flat, surface surrounding the landing site.

The vertical profile of winds on Titan

A high resolution vertical profile of Titan's winds is reported, with an estimated accuracy of better than 1 m s-1, providing in situ confirmation of superrotation on Titan.

Chemistry and evolution of Titan's atmosphere

Abstract The chemistry and evolution of Titan's atmosphere is reviewed in the light of the scientific findings from the Voyager mission. It is argued that the present N2 atmosphere may be Titan's

Photochemistry and evolution of Mars' atmosphere: A Viking perspective

Viking measurements of the Martian upper atmosphere indicate thermospheric temperatures below 200oK, temperatures much colder than those implied by remote sensing experiments on Mariner 6, 7, and 9

Comets, impacts, and atmospheres.

A mixture of three basic types of comets appears capable of accounting for the observed volatile inventories on Venus, Earth, and Mars, with the caveat that impact erosion is necessary to explain the present condition of the martian atmosphere.