Scientists recall and celebrate the successful Huygens Mission from twelve years ago. Back in 2005, Huygens probe reached Titan, Saturn’s moon. This mission marked the farthest point from Terra any spaceship has ever landed. Scientists celebrate the twelfth anniversary of this fantastic event. Hopefully, this success will build the base for another one to come when Cassini rover is expected to land Saturn o September 15, 2017.
- Astronomers explain the purpose and success of Huygens Mission.
- The rover managed to safely reach the surface of Titan after some difficulties.
- A very skilled engineer made possible the successful landing.
Huygens mission is worth celebrating especially because it was on the verge of failure, but in the end, it managed to reach the surface of Titan safe and sound. An ESA engineer was the one who completed an in-flight test of the radio system of Huygens probe. Without his help, there would be no data about the discoveries the probe managed to accomplish on Titan.
In 1999 both Cassini and Huygens crafts were on their way to accomplishing their missions. They launched in 1997, but instead of following a particular path which was previously established, known as a beeline for the 6th planet from the Sun, both rovers followed a looping path which is known as VVEJGA trajectory (Venus-Venus-Earth-Jupiter Gravity Assist).
They swung around Venus twice and passed right by Earth two years later. These flybys have given even more boost to the spaceship, helping it get to Saturn. Moreover, this trajectory was thought to be even better because while the rover flew passed our planet, astronomers were able to test more instruments and systems, making sure Huygens will reach its destination.
Earl Maize, the Project Manager for the Cassini mission at JPL, stated that the European team wanted to verify the receiver on Huygens, transmitting data from Terra. This was characterized as being an excellent in-flight test because flight engineers have a dictum which they like to follow that says ‘test as you fly, fly as you test.’
The primary purpose was that Cassini needed to reach Titan to release Huygens and then continue its mission on its own. Huygens was bound to drop through the thick atmosphere of Titan, continuously transmitting information. Unfortunately, Huygens probe did not have enough power to send all the data gathered to Earth. Thus, Cassini was used to storing Huygens’ data and transmit it later to Earth. Boris Smeds, an ESA engineer, made sure that this data handoff would work. Otherwise, the mission would have failed.
Image courtesy of: wikipedia