Seven Years from Here 2005 

On February 14th, 2005, the ESA/NASA probe Huygens landed on Saturn’s moon Titan after a seven-year voyage.

The 1000 raw images that Huygens radioed back to Earth were unwillingly leaked to the internet, where I found them only hours after the landing.

After finding and enhancing the 11 relevant images I was able to compose the first Titan panorama. It was published on the internet 24 hours after the landing and subsequently downloaded 250’00 times.

Being the first human being to gain an overview of a landscape on this remote celestial body, I experienced a «Neil Armstrong moment», during which the panorama was composed according to scientific principles, while employing artistic criteria.

Seven Years from Here, Inkjet in Diasec, silkscreen print, gilded edge, 2005. 1289Ă—657mm, Edition of 7.


Wed Oct 15, 1997 :
The American-European Cassini–Huygens Spacecraft is launched from the Earth towards Saturn.

Sat Dec 25, 2004 :
The Huygens lander separates from Cassini orbiter and heads for a 22-day trip to its 21/2 hour descent onto Saturn’s largest moon: Titan.

Fri Jan 14, 2005 :
Slowly spinning under its parachute, Huygens tumbles towards Titan and transmits roughly 350 photo triplets and other ­scientific data from Titan’s surface for hours until its batteries die.

Fri Jan 14, 2005, from 17:00 :
Nerds in #space on freenode grab the raw image data that is ­(accidentally) online for five minutes. In a collaborative effort and constantly compiling the results on a webserver, they puzzle images together to generate the first vertical views of this strikingly alien world.

Sat Jan 15, 2005 16:00 CET :
Christian Waldvogel un­successfully searches for ­official images, but finds the raw data and the results page, still missing horizontal views.

Sat Jan 15, 2005 22:05 CET :
Compositing the disordered eleven triplets from the last phase of the descent, Waldvogel produces a black and white version of the panorama within a few hours. Submitted to the results page it is welcomed as an outsider contribution and immediately published.

Sun Jan 16, 2005 11:00 CET :
ESA and NASA release a ­coloured ground view based on one frame and spectrographical ­metadata.

Sun Jan 16, 2005 18:54 CET :
Matching the ESA/NASA ground view colours, Wald­vogel then creates and uploads the colour version of the Panorama. This image is the first closeup panoramic overview of Titan and is the only one generated not only with scientific, but also with artistic intents. It is released into the Public Domain and is subsequently used by many third parties.

Mon Jan 17, 2005 :
ESA announces that the experiment with releasing all raw images to the online community right away led to participation and results of surprising extent…

Tue Jan 18, 2005 :
Over 250’000 people have downloaded the Titan composites.

Fri Jan 21, 2005 :
The London Times publishes «Amateurs who beat Nasa over the moon». Other media that cover the story in their paper or ­online version include Nature, New Scientist, USA Today, Der Spiegel, Discovery Channel, The Economist, Jornal do Brasil, Ciel et Espace.

   Copyright ©1999—2019 by Christian Waldvogel —— All works courtesy the artist —— Website 1998–2013 —— Get in touch: hochnebel(g)