Eminent Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695) discovered Titan in 1655, and was the first to deduce that Saturn was surrounded by a ring. He also invented the pendulum clock, the first accurate time-keeping device. Painting by Vaillant, courtesy
3 January 2005 Global cooperation will see yet another frontier breached in the next week as the European Space Agency's Huygens probe makes its descent towards the surface of Saturn's largest and most mysterious moon, Titan. The European Space Agency's Huygens probe was successfully released by NASA's Cassini orbiter on Christmas Day and is now on a controlled collision course toward Titan, where on 14 January it will make a descent through one of the most intriguing atmospheres in the solar system to an unknown surface. This will be the first man-made object to explore in-situ this unique environment, whose chemistry is assumed to be very similar to that of the early Earth just before life began, 3.8 billion years ago.