Cassini-Huygens – Descent on Titan

This movie, built with data collected during the European Space Agency’s Huygens probe on Jan. 14, 2005, shows the operation of the Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer camera during its descent and after touchdown. The almost four-hour-long operation of the camera is shown in less than five minutes. That’s 40 times the actual speed up to landing and 100 times the actual speed thereafter.

The first part of the movie shows how Titan looked to the camera as it acquired more and more images during the probe’s descent. Each image has a small field of view, and dozens of images were made into mosaics of the whole scene.

Sounds from a left speaker trace Huygens’ motion, with tones changing with rotational speed and the tilt of the parachute. There also are clicks that clock the rotational counter, as well as sounds for the probe’s heat shield hitting Titan’s atmosphere, parachute deployments, heat shield release, jettison of the camera cover and touchdown.

Sounds from a right speaker go with the Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer activity. There’s a continuous tone that represents the strength of Huygens’ signal to Cassini. Then there are 13 different chimes – one for each of instrument’s 13 different science parts – that keep time with flashing-white-dot exposure counters. During its descent, the Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer took 3,500 exposures.