Cassini at Saturn: AMNH Celebrates the

Huygens Splashdown/Crashdown on Titan


After seven years of travel through the Solar System, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft reached Saturn last July to begin a 4-year voyage of discovery of the mysteries of the Saturn system.  A highlight of the Cassini mission is the deployment and landing of a small spacecraft built by the European Space Agency – the Huygens Probe – on the surface of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.  Shrouded in a thick, opaque atmosphere, the surface of Titan remains one of last, great, unexplored mysteries of the Solar System.  We don’t even know, for example, whether the Huygens probe will crash on a solid surface or splash into liquid seas:  previous studies of Titan strongly suggest that Titan may be covered with vast oceans of liquid hydrocarbons!


Early in the morning on January 14, 2005, the Huygens Probe will begin its decent into Titan’s atmosphere.  Taking the better part of the day to fall to the surface and relay the images back to Earth, the first images of Saturn’s mysterious moon will be available some time late Friday night or early Saturday morning.  To celebrate this achievement and share in the real-time discovery of this strange world, the American Museum of Natural History invites you to join us for the following programs and events:


January 14, 2005, 7:00 – 9:00 – Linder Theatre

“Imaging Titan: The On-going Discovery of a Strange, New World” – evening lecture by Dr. David Grinspoon, Southwest Research Institute.  First images of Titan will be shared if they become available. ($14 admission; $12 members, students, seniors; enter through 77th St. entrance)


January 15, 2005, 5:00 – 9:00 am – Rose Center, Cullman Hall of the Universe

“Breakfast at Titan” includes live broadcast of the European Space Agency Press Conference (first images back from Huygens of Titan’s surface) and discussion by scientists Neil Tyson, Denton Ebel, Laura Danly, and David Grinspoon.  Doors open at 4:45,  (Free admission; parking available in Museum garage; free continental breakfast is served)


January 15, 2005,  12:00 pm – Hayden Planetarium

Live dome presentation of the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn and Titan. (Free with Museum admission)


January 15, 2005,  2:15 pm – Linder Theatre

“Huygens at Titan: New Results From a Strange, New World” –lecture by Dr. David Grinspoon, Southwest Research Institute. (Free with Museum admission)


January 15, 2005,  On-going through the day:

      Periodic mission updates – Meteorite Hall, Black Hole Theatre

      Hands-on family activities – Cullman Hall of the Universe


For more information, call Museum Reservations at 212-769-5200.