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Huygens: A first look at Titan

Prof John Zarnecki

Tuesday 22 March 2005

at Cranfield University, Bedfordshire

Cranfield University logo

(important: this event is NOT at Hamilton Place)

Public open lecture - All visitors welcome - No admission fee - No tickets required - No advance booking - Just turn up ! - Doors open 5:30pm

John Zarnecki
  • Public open lecture
  • All visitors welcome
  • No admission fee
  • No tickets required
  • No advance booking
  • Just turn up !
  • Doors open 6:00pm
The first colour view of Titan's surface from the ESA's Huygens probe

After an interplanetary journey of 7 1/4 years, the European Space Agency's probe Huygens landed on the surface of Saturn's largest moon, Titan, having been released from NASA's Cassini spacecraft last Christmas Day. Titan, which is larger than the planet Mercury, is the only planetary satellite in the entire Solar System to possess a significant atmosphere. Most interestingly, it appears that Titan's atmosphere is the site of a whole range of chemical reactions which produce increasingly complex hydrocarbon molecules. Similar reactions in Earth's early atmosphere over 4 billion years ago led to the conditions under which simple life evolved. The journey of the Huygens probe will be described as well as its final dramatic plunge to the surface. Very early results will be presented with emphasis on the United Kingdom's contribution.

John C. Zarnecki was born and raised in London. He studied physics at Queens' College, Cambridge University, then went on to get his doctorate in X-ray astronomy from University College London. Zarnecki spent 18 years in the Space Group at the Unit for Space and Astrophysics, University of Kent at Canterbury rising to the position of Reader in Space Sciences. In 2000, Zarnecki accepted the position of Professor of Space Science in the Planetary Sciences Research Institute at The Open University (OU), in Milton Keynes, England. His primary research interests are in the development of spacecraft instruments for the study of the properties of the surface and atmospheres of planets, satellites, and minor bodies. Other research interests include hypervelocity impact studies in various applications, including the survivability of bacteria in such impacts and X-ray emission from solar system surfaces and atmospheres and impacts on the Moon.

Zarnecki is principal investigator for the Science Surface Package (SSP) on the European Space Agency's Huygens probe, and a co-investigator on the Huygens Atmospheric Structure Instrument (HASI). Zarnecki was also a member of the Beagle 2 team, and a co-investigator for the Environmental Sensors Suite that would have made measurements of meteorological, radiation and physical properties on the surface of Mars. He is the deputy principal investigator for PTOLEMY, an instrument onboard ESA's Rosetta mission, which is designed to measure isotopic ratios on the surface of comet 46P/Wirtanen. He is an expert in spacecraft instrumentation, and environmental sensors, and has published more than 150 papers.

Acknowledgement: The Planetary Society www.planetary.org/news/2004/conversation_zarnecki-john_huygens_1129.html

6:00pm Doors open:  Opportunity for networking. Tea and biscuits provided from 6:30pm.


Presentation by Prof John Zarnecki

8:30pm Opportunity for further networking.

Public open lecture : all visitors welcome : no admission fee : no tickets required

(prior RSVP by email or phone of intended attendance appreciated)

This event has been organised jointly by the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) Space Group and the RAeS Cranfield branch. The presentation will take place in the Main Lecture Theatre, Kings Norton Library, Cranfield University, Bedfordshire MK43 0AL. See location map at www.cranfield.ac.uk/visit/cranmap.htm and campus map at www.cranfield.ac.uk/visit/crancamp.htm

For further details:  Conference Department, Royal Aeronautical Society, 4 Hamilton Place, London W1J 7BQ.  tel 020 7670 4300  fax 020 7670 4349  email conference@aerosociety.com  Or contact Dr Peter Roberts email p.c.e.roberts@cranfield.ac.uk

To receive details of the RAeS Space Group and other future events please send an email to space@aerosociety.com with "subscribe" in the subject.

Related web sites:  The Royal Aeronautical Society www.aerosociety.com  RAeS Space Group www.aerosociety.com/space/  Space Research Centre, Cranfield University  www.ccoa.aero/themes/space/  Planetary and Space Sciences Research Institute (PPSRI), Open University  http://pssri.open.ac.uk/  John Zarnecki http://pssri.open.ac.uk/staff/zarneckia.htm  Sample Huygens images at www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Cassini-Huygens/index.html and www.nature.com/news/2005/050117/full/050117-7.html