This image was first released five years ago today, on January 15, 2005. It shows the murky surface of Saturn’s moon Titan as seen by the European Space Agency’s Huygens probe after it made its historic descent through the moon’s thick haze and clouds and landed in a frozen plain of methane mud and icy pebbles. During the descent and after landing Huygens returned data for several hours before falling silent. The groundbreaking images and information it sent back has proved invaluable to scientists looking to gather more information about this unique and mysterious moon, which is both alien and surprisingly Earth-like.
“It was eerie…we saw bright hills above a dark plain, a weird combination of light and dark. It was like seeing a landscape out of Dante.”
– Jonathan Lunine, Cassini-Huygens mission scientist
Read more about the Huygens landing here, and watch a narrated video of the landing below:
Image: ESA/NASA/JPL/University of Arizona