The combined Cassini–Huygens spacecraft was launched from Earth on October 15, 1997. Huygens separated from the Cassini orbiter on December 25, 2004, and landed on Titan on January 14, 2005 near the Xanadu region.
Huygens was an atmospheric entry probe that landed successfully on Saturn’s moon Titan in 2005. Built and operated by the European Space Agency(ESA), it was part of the Cassini–Huygens mission and became the first spacecraft ever to land on Titan. The probe was named after the Dutch 17th-century astronomer Christiaan Huygens.
Date of discovery: May 12, 2014
Location of discovery: Saturn Moon Titan
Photo Source: http://www.ciclops.org/view/535/Huygens-Landing-Site
UFO Sightings Daily author Scott Waring says, “I was looking through Saturn photos when I came across one that had the landing area of the Cassini-Huygen site. I knew any landing site had to have something of high significance for NASA to send a probe and land there, then take off again. The site photo had a close up view and in it I found two structures, each with a lot of right angles. The structure in the above photo looks to be 3-4 floors high and I say this because it has depth to it. The shadows reveal three layers, one on top of the next.”
This was the first landing ever accomplished in the outer solar system. It touched down on land, although the possibility that it would touch down in an ocean was also taken into account in its design. The probe was designed to gather data for a few hours in the atmosphere, and possibly a short time at the surface. It continued to send data for about 90 minutes after touchdown. It remains the most distant landing of any man-made craft.
The first image released, taken from an altitude of 16 km, showing what are speculated to be drainage channels flowing to a possible shoreline. The darker areas are flat plains, while the lighter areas represent high ground.
Early imaging of Titan from the Cassini mission was consistent with the presence of large bodies of liquid on the surface. The photos showed what appeared to be large drainage channels crossing the lighter colored mainland into a dark sea. Some of the photos suggested islands and mist shrouded coastline. On January 18 it was reported that Huygens landed in “Titanian mud”, and the landing site was estimated to lie within the white circle on the picture to the left. Mission scientists also reported a first “descent profile”, which describes the trajectory the probe took during its descent.
Subsequent work done on the probe’s trajectory indicated that, in fact, it landed within the dark ‘sea’ region in the photos. Photos of a dry landscape from the surface suggested that while there was evidence of liquid acting on the surface recently, hydrocarbon lakes and/or seas might not currently exist at the Huygens landing site. Further data from the Cassini Mission, however, definitely confirmed the existence of permanent liquid hydrocarbon lakes in the polar regions of Titan (see Lakes of Titan). Long-standing tropical hydrocarbon lakes were also discovered in 2012 (including one not far from the Huygens landing site in the Shangri-La region which is about half the size of Utah’s Great Salt Lake, with a depth of at least 1 meter). The likely supplier in dry desert areas is probably underground aquifers, in other words the arid equatorial regions of Titan contain “oases”.
At the landing site there were indications of chunks of water ice scattered over an orange surface, the majority of which is covered by a thin haze of methane. The instruments revealed “a dense cloud or thick haze approximately 18-20 kilometers from the surface”. The surface itself was reported to be a clay-like “material which might have a thin crust followed by a region of relative uniform consistency.” One ESA scientist compared the texture and color of Titan’s surface to a crème brûlée, but admitted this term probably would not appear in the published papers.
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