From the September 2010 issue

Titan up close

Watch as the Huygens probe lands on an alien moon — with features and a landscape remarkably similar to our own.
By | Published: September 27, 2010 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
This image is a fish-eye projection taken with the descent imager/spectral radiometer onboard the European Space Agency’s Huygens probe, when the probe was about 3 miles (5 kilometers) above Titan’s surface. The image was taken January 14, 2005.
ESA/NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Rosaly Lopes’ Top 10 Cassini mission discoveries from the Saturn system included two entries about Titan, the ringed planet’s largest moon and one of the solar system’s most enigmatic bodies. The only object with clear evidence of liquid bodies and the only moon known to have a dense atmosphere, Titan received a personalized visit from Cassini’s Huygens probe January 14, 2005, when it descended onto the shrouded surface. The hours-long landing is condensed into this roughly 5-minute video, which shows a distant world in Saturn’s orbit giving way to thick orange-brown fog that slowly parts to allow sufficient resolution to distinguish grains of sand on the surface.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission, visit