Animation: Descent Through Clouds to Surface

January 18, 2005

This short animation is made up from a sequence of images taken by the Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer (DISR) instrument on board ESA's Huygens probe, during its successful descent to Titan on Jan. 14, 2005.

It shows what a passenger riding on Huygens would have seen. The sequence starts from an altitude of 152 kilometers (about 95 miles) and initially only shows a hazy view looking into thick cloud. As the probe descends, ground features can be discerned and Huygens emerges from the clouds at around 30 kilometers (about 19 miles) altitude. The ground features seem to rotate as Huygens spins slowly under its parachute.

The DISR consists of a downward-looking High Resolution Imager (HRI), a Medium Resolution Imager (MRI), which looks out at an angle, and a Side Looking Imager (SLI). For this animation, most images used were captured by the HRI and MRI. Once on the ground, the final landing scene was captured by the SLI.

The Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer is one of two NASA instruments on the probe.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The Descent Imager/Spectral team is based at the University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz.

Credit: ESA/NASA/JPL/University of Arizona