Friday, October 12, 2012

The first landing on Titan was movidito

On January 14, 2005 was a historic day. The European probe Huygens became the first human relic to land on one of the world’s most charming solar system: Titan. Seven years after the ESA scientists have renovate the sequence of impact with the surface using computer models and simulations with real models, finding that it was a bit rougher than expected.

The probe hit the ground at an angle of 10 ° with the direction of travel, forming a small crater 12 centimeters deep. Then slid about 30-40 centimeters above the surface before stopping. Small vibrations caused by landing were recorded by the instruments of the probe up to ten seconds after the initial impact. The ship also struck an ice-pebble 'rock' on Titan is actually water-ice about two inches, crushing him to the ground. This indicates that the floor of the landing zone had the consistency of wet sand, which is consistent with models that suggest that Huygens landed on the bed of an ancient river of methane, although the simulation rule that the area was 'wet' with large quantities of liquid methane.

It is further believed that the probe raised during four seconds a small cloud of aerosol formed by organic dust that precipitate from the upper atmosphere and deposited on the surface. Also known as tholins -name coined by Carl Sagan, these aerosols are a true manna chemical which is one of the main attractions of Titan scientists.

Titan's surface seen by the Huygens 

This study not only gives us a new perspective on the first landing on Titan, but that shows how to extract scientific results of a mission that took place more than seven years. Titan is one of the six worlds of the solar system in which humanity has managed to place a spacecraft (the Moon, Mars, Venus and the asteroid Itokawa and Eros are the others). But Huygens probe was the first spacecraft to visit the surface of a world outside our solar system. To date remains the most distant landing ever made by a probe (more than 1.5 billion miles from the sun). And it seems that, unfortunately, keep this record for many decades.

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