With all of the excitement last year about the Curiosity rover touching down and exploring the surface of Mars, the memories of other recent moments in space exploration have faded for many. Hopefully this new video, an animated rendering of the European Space Agency’s Huygens probe landing, will serve as a reminder to us all how totally badass all space travel is.
On January 14, 2005, Huygens touched down on the surface of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. This remains the most distant surface that any Earth probe has explored.
This video shows that landing from four different perspectives. First, you have a wide-angle view of the descent, followed by a pair of closer views. One is from a low angle, watching the probe come down at you, while the other frame shows the still surface of the moon, which Huygens crashes into the middle of.
The most interesting of the four looks at the landing is the final one, which is a point-of-view shot from the probe itself. You watch as the ground rushes up and as you touch down, skidding to a stop across the surface. All of this is very cinematic, and the finishing touch on this clip is watching the shadow of the parachute drift through the frame, while the actual chute remains unseen.
The detail in this video is presented with an eye on extreme accuracy. Everything, down to the stones in front of Huygens, has been painstakingly matched to the photo of the landing site sent back by the probe.