The first pictures from Titan have been released, revealing an orangy-gold haze rich in methane. European scientists have only just begun to investigate the wealth of information from the Huygens probe, which landed on Saturn’s largest moon yesterday. But the initial images show dark ice rocks dotting the surface of what appears to be a former riverbed or the edge of a lake. The ground is said to have the consistency of wet sand, or even ‘crème brulée’. Audio from the probe, which is the product of a joint European Space Agency and Nasa project, has also been released.
The sounds of the descent is a slowly rising and falling buzz, a waveform which may help to describe the pattern of the fall and the density of the atmosphere around it. The sound of the radar as it falls towards the ground and begins to bounce waves off the surface of Titan has also been heard, a steadily increasing beat that one scientist compared to “the best kind of techno music”.
Slowed by parachutes, Huygens took more than two hours to float to the icy surface of Saturn’s largest moon. It then defied expectations of a quick death and continued to transmit for at least two hours.
Titan, believed to be the only moon in the solar system with an atmosphere, is larger than the planet Mercury. Scientists believe a study of the icy moon could yield clues about how life developed on Earth.