Europe's Huygens probe has covered billions of kilometres, during a seven-year flight from Earth to Saturn. Now, the moment of the release of Huygens onto a trajectory to Titan is approaching, and scientists and engineers need maximum confidence in the readyness of the space probe for its short but critical mission.
Today's programme provides a detailed overview of the tests that were performed and the safeguards built into the system to maximise chances for misison success. It includes images from a recent check-out at ESOC, where the functioning of Huygens systems was tested.
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""Huygens ready for the final plunge""
Europe's Huygens probe has covered billions of kilometres.
But on its mothership now observing the Saturn system, the end is in
Cassini instruments have several times measured the density of Titan's
atmosphere... at a distance in September, and during the two close flybys
in October and on 13 December.
Scientists & engineers have compared the data they obtained with their
models for the Huygens descent... and their calculations look good.
During the interplanetary journey, Huygens has been regularly woken
from its slumbers to verify that all its systems would be ready for the final
During the 15th in-flight checkout on 14 September, conducted from the
Mission Operations Centre in Darmstadt Germany, all systems reported
ready for duty.
Including the triply-redundant alarmclock which, at the end of the coast
phase, will switch-on Huygens just before entry into Titan's atmosphere