Huygens: first space probe to land on Titan
The European Space Agency’s Huygens probe successfully lands on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, gathering measurements and taking mind-boggling images from the sky all the way down to the surface. Perhaps the biggest discovery of the initial pictures is an aerial view of what appear to be tributaries leading to a large body of liquid – an almost delta-like region as viewed from the sky. (Thanks to Titan’s thick atmospheric haze, its surface has never before been seen.) Huygens itself manages to touch down on dry land, on a plain scattered with chunks of ice, slowed to only 15 miles per hour by parachutes during its descent (despite upper-level winds estimated at around 300mph). Even if Huygens had splashed down in a body of liquid, the probe is designed to stay afloat.