Posted by: Rowan | July 20, 2008

Visualise THIS!

I just came across this (yep – tidying up my disk) from a couple of years back. I knew I’d find a good use for it.

When the Huygens probe landed on Titan in 2005 it was the furthest-away landing ever (and still is) and the ESA team wanted to ‘get’ what it feels like to land on something so far away. All they’d ever seen of it before was a smoggy orb so they were parachuting into the dark, but the smog cleared at about 60km from the surface.

It’s 4’40” of video but the last minute or so is kind of stunning, and it’s got heaps of wowthatsreallycool if you’re that way inclined. The audio gives you what the lander was doing on the way down – pitch, rotation, turbulence etc. There’s a couple of bangs on the way which is heat shields ejecting and chutes deploying and stuff. There’s a visualisation of it on the left of the screen along with the lander’s path down to the surface, and on the right are some indicators I don’t understand.

And in the middle there’s the eyeball view of what it’s like to land on Titan, face first.

If they were hoping to ‘get’ what it feels like to land on something so far away – I think they got it. In terms of visualisation, it’s like riding down with the lander. Face first.

Here’s the video and here’s the description of it.



  1. […] a geeky kind of way. Over in Featherston, Rowan Smith has posted a video of the Huygens lander hitting Titan. There was no camera crew, of course – this is part live feed […]

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