Saturday, April 16, 2011

Destination Titan: Video

This really is a remarkable program, documenting some remarkable people and their even more remarkable achievement. Tasked with building a probe that would be required to travel two billion miles over a period of seven years, descend through Titan's atmosphere, to land and then gather and transmit data while operating at a temperature of minus 200C, was no small order of the day. And made all the more remarkable that the team gathered to achieve this were, for want of a better description, a bunch of amateurs.

One of the defining moments for me was the launch aboard the Titan IV-B rocket, nothing but nothing brought home more, the pressure that the team must have been under and the expectation of a successful mission that hinged on this tiny module actually working when it arrived at Titan, than watching this truly enormous rocket, with all its associated costs and technical achievements, take off from the launch pad. The filming of that launch alone is quite remarkable, poetic even. Needless to say, highly recommended.

The Titan IV-B is the Nation's largest and most powerful expendable launch vehicle. It also is the Nation's newest model heavy-lift launch vehicle. This mammoth rocket is as tall as a 20-story building and weighs about 940,000 kg (2 million lbs.) with the solid rocket boosters and fuel. more NASA Glenn Research Center

I had intended just to give you the BBC's intro, but far better than that, this from the Open University, explains far better.

Destination Titan tells moving story of one man’s personal space odyssey

The landing of the Huygens probe on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, in January 2005 was one small step for The Open University’s Professor John Zarnecki and a giant leap for the history of space exploration. Not only was Huygens the most distant probe to land anywhere in our solar system, but the stunning images and data sent back by the probe have helped to paint a picture of an exotic new world. With its methane seas, volcanoes and cliffs of ice, Titan bears a striking resemblance to our own early Earth.

For Professor John Zarnecki, one of Huygen’s six principal scientists, the landing on Titan was a moment he had been building towards since his inspirational boyhood encounter with the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, 50 years ago.

Destination Titan, a BBC / Open University co-production, follows Zarnecki’s journey through the twists and turns of a distinguished career in space academia, to the surface of the world over a billion miles from Earth. First at the University of Kent and latterly at The Open University, Professor Zarnecki devoted years to the Titan project without any guarantee that would have a happy outcome – a terrific and inspiring combination of hard science and calculated risk taking.

In charge of the probe’s ‘Surface Science Package’, Professor Zarnecki’s team was faced with the task of designing the first contact with the surface of Saturn’s mysterious moon. The first-ever pictures from Titan adorned the front pages of newspapers around the world, but the inside story of this extraordinary mission remains largely untold.

John Zarnecki said: “The images from the surface of Titan, and the data from our own instrument, easily made the 15 years of hard work, occasional frustration and sometimes blind panic immediately worthwhile.

“That day, back in 1988, when we first toyed with the idea of putting in a bid to build an instrument to land on Titan, it was beyond my wildest dreams that the day would come to pass when it would all come true.”

Featuring previously unseen footage and exclusive interviews with those involved, Destination Titan tells the moving story of one man’s personal space odyssey, and of the small team of scientists who made this mission happen. Drawing on unprecedented access and detailed research, the programme will tell the warts and all inside story of this major planetary mission, and discover just what it takes to be a successful space scientist. Destination Titan offers a real insight into the team-work that goes into such a complex and ambitious scientific endeavour – not just the magical, revelatory moments but the daily slog, the frustrations and the need to make-do-and-mend with available resources. Open University

Video pulled due to copyright.


Anonymous said...

Impressive and poetic, including the British pronuncation of Huygens; the other way round, something like Double Dutch English.

Anonymous said...

I mean: pronunciation
theorem proved

Himself said...

You've lost me on that one Maren. perhaps because I'm not a linguist.

Two languages in one head, that's impossible, no one can live at that speed!

One minute fifty mark

Did you watch it the though? I have to admit to watching again last night, and just as impressive the second time around.

Anonymous said...

Hello Himself,

I've watched it for the second time, I really like Eddie Izzard's humour, not humor; lesson ? (I've lost count), too much American influence I suppose. But even I (me?) can hear the horrible accent of Julia Gillard, apart from the fact that she is not my type.

All the more admirable that Eddie Izzard, because of his dyslexia,
rarely works from a script.

As for not being linguist, there is no need for English speakers, the rest will learn English. Besides, let's face it, it is almost impossible to learn Dutch,
apart from the fact that you can hardly call it a world language.
German sounds better.

Kind regards,

Anonymous said...