Titan – a profound mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a significant nitrogen atmosphere
NASA Cassini-Huygens home page, Press Releases
On Christmas Day, a small probe (Huygens) will separate from the Cassini spacecraft and head towards Saturn’s moon Titan. It will hit the atmosphere on 21st Jan and drop down taking photos and other science-stuff all the way down.

I was tickled by the story (related in a BBC doc on this a few weeks back) that after launching this MASSIVE craft and spending years developing it, it was discovered that the small probe and the Cassini craft were not able to communicate. A major problem because the probe is not able to send its info directly back to Earth, but has to use Cassini as a relay. The probe signal and the Cassini aerial would only work at incompatible frequencies. (No doubt the real story was more complex, but this was how it was reduced for us on the BBC doc.) OH CALAMITY. Not to worry, the wonderful, and simple workround, was that while the probe would send its info, the Cassini craft would SPEED towards the probe, and the dopler effect would shift the radio-waves into the right frequency for it to pick up!

So fortunately, we can look forward to a detailed view of the surface and lots of stuff about the atmosphere’s chemistry. And because Titan is one of only a handful of bodies in the Solar System with a surface AND a significant atmosphere it should make it all VERY VERY EXCITING.

And it is. But while the chance of finding ALIUMS FROM ANOTHER WORLD is all very well and good, it is doubly important because it is the scene of much Sci-Fi fun. It’s where Dr Who picks up K9, courtesy of Grange Hill’s Mr Bronson in Invisible Enemy, and where Judge Dredd’s clone brother Rico was imprisoned.

I have no idea why the Wikipedia entry for Titan mentions Dredd (and Red Dwarf) but not K9. Some mysteries are not for us to comprehend.