March 22, 2010 - Final Resting Place

Final Resting Place Christiaan Huygens was a Dutch astronomer whose eponymous space probe now rests on the surface of the world he discovered 355 years ago this week. In 1655, using a telescope he built himself, Huygens spied a moon orbiting Saturn. That it was not given a proper name for nearly two more centuries does not diminish Titan’s uniqueness in the solar system: it is the only moon with an appreciable atmosphere, and the only solar system body besides Earth that has surface lakes. Titan’s lakes are filled with liquid hydrocarbons that rain from the atmosphere. These images from 2005 show the view from the European Space Agency’s Huygens probe at altitudes ranging from 100 miles to a quarter-mile as it descended to Titan’s surface. In each 360° panoramic view, north is in the center.

Image credit: ESA / NASA / JPL / University of Arizona

Weekly Calendar

March 22-28, 2010

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 22

1982: STS-3 Columbia launched
1996: STS-76 Atlantis launched
1997: Comet Hale-Bopp closest approach to Earth

Moon phase Tuesday 23

First Quarter Moon 7:00 AM ET

1749: Pierre Laplace born
1840: John William Draper takes first photograph of Moon
1912: Wernher von Braun born
1965: Gemini III launched
2001: Mir space station reenters atmosphere

Moon phase Wednesday 24

Pallas appears stationary

1893: Walter Baade born
1992: STS-45 Atlantis launched

Moon phase Thursday 25

Mars 5° north of Moon

1655: Christiaan Huygens discovers Titan, moon of Saturn
1996: Comet Hyakutake closest approach to Earth
2000: IMAGE spacecraft launched

Moon phase Friday 26

2009: Soyuz TMA-14 launched carrying ISS Expedition 19/20 crew

Moon phase Saturday 27

1969: Mariner 7 launched
1972: Venera 8 launched
1989: Contact lost with Phobos 2
1999: First Sea Launch mission

Moon phase Sunday 28

Palm Sunday

Moon at perigee

1802: Heinrich Olbers discovers asteroid Pallas
1963: Fourth Saturn C-1 rocket (SA-4) launched

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.