The first images from the surface of Saturn’s giant moon Titan have been received by scientists following the successful landing of the Cassini spacecraft robot probe Huygens. Titan is larger than Mercury but smaller than Mars and freezing cold, around -180c. Spectrometer colour pictures are due over the coming days although there will not be any panoramic pictures from the surface.
More than 300 images have been received, that’s around half of what was planned; many are missing due to technical reasons. Images could show ice blocks and snowballs, signs of erosion with shorelines and boundaries between raised ground and flooded plains. The underlying surface at the landing site appears flat.
Audio engineers are analysing and listening to sounds from an onboard microphone that stores and compresses data for processing, perhaps of atmospheric wind, thunder or waves. Strange echoes were picked up at a high altitude during descent which are sometimes associated with clouds and birds on earth.
Digital audio recordings of sounds from Titan:
- Sounds from the Huygens "microphone" The Planetary Society presents a selection of WAV files and sound spectograms of Huygens descent into the atmosphere of Titan.
- Sounds from the ill fated Mars Polar Lander space mission are also documented along with details of the science and technology used.
"Among the four terrestrial bodies in our solar system that have atmospheres–Earth, Mars, Venus, and Titan–the Earth and Titan are the two most similar. Both are composed mostly of nitrogen, and they also have similar atmospheric pressure at the surface: Titan’s surface pressure is abotu 1600 millibars, compared to Earth’s 1013. So sounds on Earth and Titan will not be all that different. The thicker atmosphere should make Titan sounds a little louder–or, to put it another way, the same noises made on Titan and Earth would travel longer distances on Titan."
First data confirmation (MP3) 2,785KB – 7 mins
Live announcement (mp3) 2,353KB – 5 mins 15sec
Huygens_alien_winds_descent.mp3 Several sound samples, taken at different times during the descent, are here combined together and give a realistic reproduction of what a traveller on board Huygens would have heard during one minute of the descent through Titan’s atmosphere.
Radar echoes from Titan’s surface converted into audio, both the pitch and intensity increase as the probe approaches the ground.
ESA: Sounds of an alien world page for the latest audio source features and updates.
Cassini-Huygens spacecraft mission resources:
- ESA Cassini-Huygens go here for all the latest project information including animations, audio, and images, videos and data analysis.
- BBC – Huygens sends first Titan images has project background information, pictures and an animation of the Cassini spacecraft descent.
- CICLOPS: Cassini imaging project releases images every Friday.
- NASA – Cassini-Huygens Saturn info features raw data images and radio telescope analysis of incoming data.
- Possible Shoreline Revealed in First Titan Picture Reuter’s news report.
- Raw photos from the Huygens probe has a long list of photos.
http://www.lyle.org/mars/ has hundreds of spectacular pictures from the Mars Rover taken over the past year. The images are free for your use providing you put "Courtesy: NASA/JPL & M Lyle" in the image caption.
Spirit: 90 Sols in 90 seconds time shrunk movie taken from Spirit Rover.
Opportunity: 90 Sols in 90 seconds time shrunk movie taken from Opportunity Rover.
NASA Mars Exploration Rover Mission for mission details and multimedia files.
Slashdot comments on the Huygens probe from members of the community.
http://www.technorati.com/tag/Titan blog buzz, del.icio.us bookmarks and Flickr photos aggregate page.