The surface of Titan, a satellite of Saturn

Space Cadet JimmieJoe is taking me to task right now.  This is a big thing, and I missed it!

On January 14, 2005, NASA and ESA landed a probe on Titan, one of the moons of Saturn!

I don’t recall being aware of this, at all.  I don’t even know if I’ve seen this picture before, but if I have, I’m fairly certain I would think it was of Mars.  Instead, this is the surface of a satellite orbiting a planet 794 million miles away from us (at it’s closest approach).

I’m thinking, right now, of all the hoopla surrounding the recent landing of the Curiosity on Mars, and marveling that there was not something similar back in 2005.  Yes, the Huygens probe, part of the Cassini mission, only parachuted to the “ground”, and Curiosity did the whole ‘heat shield – parachute – retro rocket – sky crane’ deal, but still…

I missed it!  (hanging head in shame, avoiding the glare of 12 year old Space Cadet JimmieJoe)

Mars, and Titan.  But did you know, they’re not the only two places we’ve set down on.

We’ve landed on another planet, too.

Venus!  Yes, the Soviet Union landed several Venera spacecraft on the surface of our closest neighbor in the Solar System.  A few pictures were snapped, and some data returned, before the crushing atmospheric pressure and 800 degree temperatures killed the probes.  These probes whose photos are below were active between 1975 to 1981, each lander operating for a short time.

I’m a little embarrassed about this, too!  I had thought there was only one Venera probe to reach the surface, but there were at least four!

Veneras 9 and 10

Venera 13, left view, colorized

Venera 13 right view, colorized

Venera 13

Venera 14

So, I missed a bunch of stuff!  Including this!  Space Cadet JimmieJoe is threatening to revoke my membership in the Space Age Hall of Fame, but I have a secret weapon…  if he tosses me, he goes too!  In my defense, I didn’t miss the landing of the NEAR Shoemaker probe on the asteroid Eros, in 2001.  That was very cool!  I think I’m safe from the wrath of my inner Space Cadet, but I really have to pay closer attention.  One good thing about today versus 2005 is that I’m on Facebook and Twitter now!  Between friends putting things up, and my following of NASA on both services, I think I’m good.  Here are their links, if you’re interested:  @NASA and NASA on Facebook. They shouldn’t be able to sneak too much past me in the future.  The future that still doesn’t have my flying car!

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