It is well known that The Panda’s Thumb is not just an evolution blog, it is also occasionally a Cassini-Huygens fanclub blog. We live-blogged the Huygens landing, and gushed over the discovery of stream channels (although annoyingly the methane oceans have not yet appeared, there clearly is some kind of methalogical cycle going on).
Someone has finally done the obvious thing and put together all of the Huygens images into a continuous animation. See the one with narration and the one with boops and beeps indicating various onboard processes. The fisheye camera perspective is kind of weird but we get a much better picture of what the surface topography looked like up close than we did from just the isolated snapshots.
It all just makes me wish they’d put a balloon and one of them plutonium-fueled Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators on Huygens so that it could float around for a few months at 10 k elevation and give us some more details of what is down there.
While I’m demanding things from NASA, here are my other requests for the Cassini mission if it goes into “extra innings” like other recent NASA missions have: (1) get some more images of the Giant Equatorial Ridge on Iapetus, (2) full radar map of Titan’s surface, and then (3) a suicide mission to get a really super-up-close view of Saturn’s rings. I want to see the individual particles, darn it! A friend tells me there is no way to slow down the Cassini craft enough to get both slow enough and close enough to image 1-meter ice boulders, but I don’t buy it. There has got to be a way!