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19 Feb 2007

OU space scientist to deliver Durham University Grubb-Parsons Lecture

Professor Zarnecki

Professor Zarnecki

The Open University scientist who headed the most distant landing ever made by any manmade spacecraft – when European Space Agency’s Huygens probe parachuted softly on to the surface of Saturn's moon Titan – will deliver the 2006 – 2007 Grubb-Parsons Lecture at Durham University.

Professor John Zarnecki, the director of the Open University's Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space and Astronomical Research (CEPSAR), led the team that provided the first instrument to touch down on Titan. As the OU team remarked at the time: “We have opened a window on an alien world”.

Professor Zarnecki will talk about the journey of the Huygens probe and its final dramatic plunge to the surface, as well as present results from the data Huygens sent back to Earth. Prospects for future space missions will also be included.

Titan  (NASA/JPL photo)

Titan (NASA/JPL photo)

Titan, which is larger than the planet Mercury, is the only planetary satellite in the entire Solar System to possess a significant atmosphere. This atmosphere is the site of a range of chemical reactions which produce complex hydrocarbon molecules similar to the processes which are likely to have occurred in Earth's early atmosphere over 4 billion years ago.

'Touchdown on Titan' - The 2006-2007 Grubb-Parsons Lecture
by Prof. John Zarnecki
28 February, 16:30 - 17:30, Scarborough Lecture Theatre, Science Site, Durham University

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