A Tale of Two Planets

What’s Earth-like Mean? By Lee Billings, on Boingboing.net. Not an alternate reality: The Huygens Probe explores the surface of Titan, Saturn’s moon. Its findings are a bit haunting, even from this distance.

Excerpt: As it descended, Huygens’ cameras captured views of what looked like shorelines and deltas, and a suite of instruments sampled air that was at a temperature near the triple point of methane—the small subset of atmospheric conditions in which methane can exist simultaneously as a solid, a liquid, or a gas. The air was dense with nitrogen and laced with complex organic compounds.

An on-board microphone recorded the eerily familiar sound of rushing, gusting wind.

The probe touched down in what appeared to be a dry riverbed strewn with fluid-polished pebbles.


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