The first picture "from the surface of a planetary body outside the inner Solar system." 2005 © NASA/ESA/ASI. Image Source: Wiki.
Today is the sixth anniversary since the phenomenal landing on Saturn's moon, Titan, during the Cassini–Huygens spacecraft mission to study the Saturnine system. This is just one of the great scientific achievements of our era that is of epic importance. The mission was a joint NASA, ESA and ASI initiative. The NASA site is here. The ESA site on the mission is here and the ASI site is here. There is a good NASA video on the landing, with views of the moon as Huygens landed on it, here.
The 2005 touchdown. Image Source/Credits: ESA/D. Ducros.
BBC report on the mission. Video Source: Youtube.
BBC report on the historic landing. Video Source: Youtube.
Living history: the two spacecraft in this mission were named after the Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695), who discovered Titan as the first of Saturn's moons; and Italian/French astronomer Giovanni Cassini (1625-1712), the first astronomer to observe four of Saturn's moons.
Christiaan Huygens, namesake of the craft that landed on the moon. Image Source: Wiki.
Giovanni Domenico Cassini, for whom the larger craft that reached the Saturnine system is named. Image Source: Wiki.
In the Columbia Pictures film Gattaca (1997), a genetically imperfect protagonist risks all to pilot the first manned mission to Titan. The story revolves primarily around genetic engineering of a futuristic elite, but this overlaps with space exploration, since only the crème de la crème are permitted to become cosmonauts. Ironically, this negative anticipation of genetic engineering matches Stephen Hawking's recent positive assumption that we will genetically alter ourselves in order to be able to bear extensive manned missions in our own solar system and beyond. See my post on Hawking's discussion on this topic, here.
Gattaca trailer. Video Source: Youtube.
Gattaca depiction of genetic engineering and selection. Video Source: Youtube.
Gattaca depiction of beating the system. Video Source: Youtube.
The hero in this film triumphs over his genetically superior peers by 'not saving anything for the swim back,' the implication being that the human spirit will be greater in future space exploration than any biological tweaking of our physical capabilities.