(JDH Newswire) Several weeks ago, a small probe launched from Southwestern Pennsylvania arrived at the moon of Saturn named Titan. Titan has been of interest to scientists because it has an interesting atmosphere probably containing organic materials associated with the generation and support of life. Later this year, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have the combined Cassini/Huygens probe arriving at Saturn and its moon Titan. The NASA Cassini probe will orbit Saturn and throughout its moon system to investigate both Saturn and its moons. The ESA Huygens probe will investigate Titan more intensively by descending through the atmosphere of Titan and possibly landing. The Huygens probe is designed to gather and send data during the descent since there are many uncertainties about the surface and landing.

The West Mifflin probe has proven an acceptable landing is attainable. It landed on Friday May 28, 2004, 04:56:47 GMT. This probe has very limited instrumentation and was mainly intended for proof of concept, using Commercial Off  The Shelf (COTS) technology, including recycled items. The COTS technology has been the cause for delay in starting significant communications. Although lacking in instrumentation, The probe has cameras and is now returning pictures.

The first photo shows the rover on a flat-looking but hard rock-like plain approaching what appears to be a snow-like material. NASA and other scientist have conjectured that methane and ethane probably exist on Titan in liquid and solid forms including "snow". The somewhat regularly shaped cracks filled with a material different from the flat rocks are a mystery, reminiscent of the "canali" on Mars.
Titan rover on snow and canali
The second photo shows the mother ship which remains high up in the atmosphere using the balloon concept. Obviously some parts of this recycled equipment are not used such as the cupola. This unit also suffers from a lack of instrumentation. Note the haziness and coloration due to the organics in the atmosphere.
Titan mother ship
In the next photo, we see the Titan probe has deployed its flag. It appears to be approaching a crevasse filled with another type of material not previously encountered.
Titan probe engaging crevasse
In the last three photos, the probe is maneuvering through a field of the snow-like substance and rock-like outcroppings are occasionally seen.
snow field 1

snow field 2

snow field 3 disclaimer

The Titan probe is from West Mifflin, Pennsylvania. Appropriately, The West Mifflin School District moniker is the Titans. (End)