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Science & Exploration

N° 18–2004: From discovery to encounter: international conference on Saturn’s moon Titan

30 March 2004

In the week that sees the 375th anniversary of the birth of the Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens, an international conference entitled ‘Titan: From Discovery to Encounter’ is taking place, from 13 to 17 April, at ESA’s European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC), Noordwijk, the Netherlands.


Christiaan Huygens, one of the leading European scientists of the 17th century, discovered Saturn's rings and its largest moon, Titan. Exploration of Saturn and its satellites is the main objective of the joint ESA/NASA mission Cassini/Huygens. The spacecraft arrives at Saturn on 1 July and the Huygens probe will descend into the atmosphere of Titan in January next year.

The conference will bring together an international team of space scientists and historians to discuss topics such as:

- Christiaan Huygens and his relations with other 17th century scientists, such as Cassini, Descartes and Newton;

- observation of Saturn and its moons from the 17th century to today;

- the scientific objectives of the Cassini/Huygens mission and its latest observations on the way to the Saturnian system.

The conference opens on Tuesday 13 April at 13:30 hours with speeches by Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA Director General, and Maria van der Hoeven, Dutch Minister for Education, Culture and Science.

Members of the media wishing to attend the opening session and other parts of the conference should complete and return the attached form. Those interested in the scientific aspects of the Cassini/Huygens mission should consider the sessions on Thursday and Friday, 15/16 April, devoted to the exploration of Saturn and Titan. Those wishing to interview European and American scientists involved in the mission should indicate this on the registration form.

A detailed programme of the conference can be found at:

For further information please contact:

Communications Office, Noordwijk (ESTEC)

Tel: +31 (0)71 565 3006

Fax: +31 (0)71 565 5728


Titan conference, 13–17 April 2004

Newton Conference Room

ESA Establishment in Noordwijk (ESTEC), The Netherlands

First Name:__________________ Surname: ___________________

Media: ___________________________________________________

Address: _________________________________________________


Tel:_________________________ Fax: ________________________

Mobile: _____________________ E-mail: _____________________

I will be attending the Titan conference on the following dates:

13 14 15 16 (encircle your chosen days)

I would like to interview mission scientists:

Yes No (encircle)

I would like to interview …………………………………… …. (enter name of scientist)

Please return by fax to:

Communications Office, Noordwijk (ESTEC)

Tel :+31(0)71 565 3006

Fax : +31 (0)71 565 5728


For further information:

ESA Media Relations Division

Tel: +33(0)

Fax: +33(0)