Huygens (space probe)

Article

January 20, 2022

Huygens is a space probe developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) and is named after the Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens who lived in the 17th century. The spacecraft's landing on Saturn's moon Titan is part of the Cassini-Huygens project. The Cassini-Huygens spacecraft was launched from Earth on October 15, 1997. The Huygens spacecraft was separated from the Cassini spacecraft on December 25, 2004, and landed in the Xanadu area of ​​Titan on January 14, 2005. It landed on solid ground. In the development of the probe, it was also taken into account that it could land in a sea. The probe sent data for approx. 90 minutes after it had landed.

Overview

Huygens will study the clouds, atmosphere and surface of Saturn's moon Titan. It is designed to pass through Titan's atomic sphere and will parachute instruments all the way down to Titan's surface. The Huygens system consists of the probe itself, which will land on Titan, and instruments (PSE) on the spacecraft. These instruments include electronics to track the probe, to retrieve data during landing, and to process data for transmission to the parent vessel. This information is then transmitted to the earth. The probe has been "asleep" throughout the 6.7-year journey, with the exception of tests. These tests have followed pre-programmed routines, and the results have been analyzed by experts. Before the probe was separated from the mother vessel on December 25, 2004, a final test was performed. The instruments were then loaded with precise information for the landing system (which was struck 15 minutes before Huygens entered Titan's atomic sphere), then the probe was released from the mother ship and went for 22 days without using any instruments except a clock that would say from when the probe should "wake up". The main target was a parachute landing through Titan's atmosphere. The batteries and all other resources were designed for 153 minutes, which corresponds to a maximum landing time of 2.5 hours plus at least three additional minutes (and possibly half an hour or more) on Titan's surface. The probe's radio connection was activated early during the landing, and the parent vessel "listened" to the probe for the next three hours, including the landing and the first thirty minutes after landing. Not long after the approx. three hours long communication, Cassini's antenna (HGA) was directed away from Titan and towards Earth. The transfer of information could start.

Finds on Titan

Finds made so far indicate that the landing area is close to a coastline or a sea. The photos show that there are rivers with what could be a sea of ​​liquid methane with an island and coastline. There may be ice cubes scattered over the orange surface, most of which are covered by a thin haze of methane. The instruments found a thick cloud or haze about 18-20 kilometers above Titan's surface, which is a possible reservoir for methane on the surface. On January 18, 2004, ESA reported that Huygens had landed in the "Titanian mud", and that the landing site was estimated to be within the white circle in the image to the right. The researchers at ESA also gave an initial profile of the probe's trajectory during landing.

Timeline

The Hugyens were split from the parent vessel Cassini at 02:00 UTC on December 25, 2004. Huygens entered Titan's atmosphere at 09:06 UTC on January 14, 2005. This time was pre-calculated. Huygens landed on Titan's surface approx. 11:24 UTC January 14, 2005.

See also

Cassini-Huygens

External links

Official website (en) Huygens (spacecraft) - category of images, video or audio on Commons ESA: Cassini-Huygens

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