Coming to a Computer Near You: The Titan Movie

Titan -- Saturn's large, smog-enshrouded moon -- as seen from the Cassini spacecraft in February 2005 (AFP/NASA/Filed)

The movie, lasting four minutes and 40 seconds, is a simulation based on 3,500 pictures taken by Huygens' camera.

   It gives a bird's-eye view from the probe as it plunges through Titan's thick, orange-tinged atmosphere and comes to a soft landing on its surface in a soft, sandy valley.

   Huygens, built by the European Space Agency (ESA), hitched a ride to Titan on the back of the US orbiter Cassini.

   Its 147-minute descent on January 14 2005 was the most distant touchdown ever made by a spacecraft. After landing, it survived for 67 minutes, sending back a rich stream of data and images that will take years to analyse.

   Titan is the only moon in the Solar System to have a substantial atmosphere, a thick mix of nitrogen and methane.

   It is suspected to be undergoing chemical reactions similar to those that unfolded on Earth billions of years ago. That process eventually provided the conditions for life on our planet.

   Links: (http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/DISR/Multimedia/Titan_Movies.htm); (http://saturn.esa.int); (http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov); (http://www.nasa.gov/cassini).

Source: AFP

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