Feeds

Huygens probe gets clean bill of health

Fit and ready for Titan

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

SANS - Survey on application security programs

The European Space Agency's Huygens probe, carried millions of miles to Saturn on board the NASA Cassini space craft, has completed its final series of checks before separation. The check up, its sixteenth, found the probe in good health, according to the ESA.

The Huygens probe will detach from Cassini on Christmas day, and drop into orbit around Titan, Saturn's biggest moon. On 15 January 2005 it will begin its descent into Titan's atmosphere, an event that might even be visible from Earth, provided you have a decent telescope, and are in the right place at the time.

Huygens en route to Titan's surface Image: ESA

The probe has been designed to reveal more about the surface of Titan. Shrouded in its thick, cloudy atmosphere, the surface of the moon has been a mystery until very recently. Detailed radar images captured by Cassini as it swung past the rocky world delighted astronomers, but did not reveal much about the composition of the landscape.

In October, as scientists counted down to Cassini's closest approach to Titan, Professor John Zarnecki from the Open University, lead scientist for the Science Surface Package on the Huygens Probe, said his team is looking forward to finding out what kind of surface is under all the smog. "In other words we want to know if our instruments will land with a splash or a thud!"

The Huygens probe is named for Christiaan Huygens, the Dutch astronomer who discovered the moon. It measures 2.7 metres across and is built like a shellfish: its hard shell designed to protect its delicate instruments from the heat of entry into the atmosphere.

There are two parts to the probe - the entry assembly module and the descent module. The former carries the thermal protection, and the controls to manoeuvre the craft after it separates from Cassini. The descent module contains the scientific instruments. Three parachutes will slow the craft on the way to the surface. ®

Related stories

Titan hangs on to its secrets
Cassini glimpses Titan's face
Cassini approaches Titanic flyby

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
Melting permafrost switches to nasty, high-gear methane release
Result? 'Way more carbon being released into the atmosphere as methane'
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.