A new rendering of Huygens descent and touchdown created using real data recorded by the probe’s instruments as it descended to the surface of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, on 14 January 2005.
The animation takes into account Titan’s atmospheric conditions, including the Sun and wind direction, the behaviour of the parachute (with some artistic interpretation only on the movement of the ropes after touchdown), and the dynamics of the landing itself. Even the stones immediately facing Huygens were rendered to match the photograph of the landing site returned from the probe, which is revealed at the end of the animation.
Split into four sequences, the animation first shows a wide-angle view of the descent and landing followed by two close-ups of the touchdown from different angles, and finally a simulated view from Huygens itself — the true Huygens experience.
This animation was released on the eighth anniversary of Huygen’s touchdown on Titan as a Space Science Image of the Week feature.
Animation: ESA–C. Carreau/Schröder, Karkoschka et al (2012). Image from Titan’s surface: ESA/NASA/JPL/University of Arizona