Descent To An Alien World

I have one regret: That I will never be able to set foot on an alien world.

I will never walk under altered gravity, stars burning brightly colored pinpoints in a stygian black sky. I will never see the sun as a small bright spot in the sky.

If it’s possible to miss something you’ve never experienced, then I miss this. Which is why I’m always on the lookout for bits of video like this. It’s amazing is what it is, dudes. Simply amazing. A little background first.

Titan is a moon orbiting Saturn and it’s the cloudiest moon in our solar system. It is seriously strange. It’s large enough to have collected an atmosphere and the mix of chemicals is volatile enough that it causes a roiling cloud bank to form across the whole of the planet/moon. Of course, we hairy apes are curious.

There’s only one thing that will make us want something more than we already do: And that’s to have something blocking us from getting it.

We want to know what’s happening on the different planets and moons. With Titan’s cloud cover, that’s just not going to happen.

Or at least it wasn’t going to happen until the European Space Agency got into the act and decided to send the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft and probe out to the Saturn system to have a look around. Huygens  detached from the Cassini spacecraft in late 2004 and began its approach to the cloud-covered worldlet of Titan.

In 2005, Huygens arrived at Titan and immediately began its descent. One tiny probe, about the size of a truck tire, against an entire environment. Probe wins.

As Huygens began its descent, it took picture after picture and faithfully relayed the images to Cassini and, from there, on to earth. And then, and this is where I start liking this more and more, someone here on earth decided to get a little fancy with the pictures.

This unknown person stitched together all the still images and made an amazing time-lapse video of Titan. Huygens comes to rest on the surface of the moon in a dry, shallow sea bed and survived for approximately 90 minutes, all the while snapping pictures.

This, then, is the result. And it’s marvelous. It feels like your eyeballs are actually there. Now if only the rest of my body could follow along.


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