This color view from Titan gazes across a suddenly familiar
but distant landscape on
Saturn's largest moon.
The scene was recorded by
ESA's Huygens probe after a
2 1/2 hour descent through a
thick atmosphere of nitrogen
laced with methane.
Bathed in an eerie orange light at ground level, rocks
about the scene could well be composed of water
and hydrocarbons frozen
solid at an
inhospitable temperature of - 179 degrees C.
The light-toned rock below and left of center is only about
15 centimeters across and lies 85 centimeters away.
Touching down at 4.5 meters per second (16 kilometers per hour),
the saucer-shaped probe is believed to have
penetrated 15 centimeters or so
into a surface with the consistency of wet sand or clay.
Huygen's batteries are now exhausted but the probe transmitted
data for more than 90 minutes after landing.
Titan's bizarre chemical environment may bear similarities to
planet Earth's before life evolved.