Feeds

Huygens probe alive and kicking

Titan mission looking hopeful

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Mission scientists have detected the first signals from the Huygens Titan probe, relayed to Earth by its Cassini mothership.

Professor John Zarnecki, principle investigator on the UK science package, said: "Cassini has turned back to the earth and started to transmit data. It is fantastic. It means Cassini has flown its mission correctly. Now we have 40 mins of suspense, then we'll start seeing mission data."

The first data is not experimental data, but housekeeping information. Even so, it does tell us some things: the amount of current being drawn, for example, gives an indication of whether or not the experiments are running, Zarnecki explained. "It tells us things like is it on, is it working?" he said.

Earlier, he told a UK press conference by video link that the scientists at mission control had detected a frequency shift of around 20Hz in the signal Huygens has been sending to Cassini. This shift came after 147 minutes, about the expected descent time, so the scientists are tentatively saying this could be the landing.

"It is certainly grounds for hope," said Zarnecki. He cautioned that the real test of the mission was whether or not it managed to send back any data. Nevertheless, he added: "We are trying hard not to feel elated, but there are a few smiles at mission control."

Huygens has taken seven years to reach Titan, the second largest satellite in the solar system, and the only one with an atmosphere.

It made its journey on board NASA's Cassini mission, and separated from the mothership on Christmas day last year. Since then it has been coasting through space, dormant, until it was woken by onboard systems as it encountered Titan's atmosphere.

Researchers hope that its experimental data will solve some of the mysteries surrounding this enigmatic body. ®

Related stories

Huygens: the countdown to splashdown
Cassini probe snaps Mimas
Huygens probe gets clean bill of health
Titan hangs on to its secrets
Cassini glimpses Titan's face
Cassini gives Iapetus a wide berth
Cassini approaches Titanic flyby
Cassini finds two tiny Saturnian moons
Cassini runs rings round Saturn
Mysterious Phoebe: Cassini's next fly-by
Cassini images delight star gazers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
Mine Bitcoins with PENCIL and PAPER
Forget Sudoku, crunch SHA-256 algos
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
'This BITE MARK is a SMOKING GUN': Boffins probe ancient assault
Tooth embedded in thigh bone may tell who pulled the trigger
DOLPHINS SMELL MAGNETS – did we hear that right, boffins?
Xavier's School for Gifted Magnetotaceans
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge
CSIRO's 'missing bushwalker' found and watered
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.