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Cassini-Huygens: Seven Year Journey Accomplished

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Cassini-Huygens: Seven Year Journey Accomplished

Old 06-30-04, 11:29 PM
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Cassini-Huygens: Seven Year Journey Accomplished

Couldn't believe there wasn't a thread on this already... I guess I'm just a hard-core space geek, but I've been anticipating tonight for well over seven years. Sadly Cassini-Huygens doesn't get the press or prestige that the Mars Rovers had earlier this year, but what a mission this is going to be.

Been watching Nasa-TV for the last three hours, and Cassini has finished engine burn and accomplished the burn within a second of the predicted "perfect" scenario according to Nasa-TV. Data from the entry into Saturn orbit should start tomorrow, but it sure is nice to see a nearly decade-long plan go perfectly. Nearly every bit of data from the mission thus far indicates that the burn simply could not have possibly gone any better.

Since tonight's entry into orbit around Saturn also included the spacecrafts closest approach to the planet, there should be a truck-load of data coming out over the next few days/weeks.

Then come January with Huygens... Next stop: Titan.
Old 06-30-04, 11:44 PM
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Right on
Old 06-30-04, 11:48 PM
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[Arnold] But honey, I'm not interested in Saturn, only Marsss![/Arnold]
Old 07-01-04, 12:02 AM
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Is the Huygens probe equipped with a camera, or just analyzers?
Old 07-01-04, 12:07 AM
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Glad to see a NASA program go well.
Old 07-01-04, 12:08 AM
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I'm not sure, but I don't remember reading anything about the probe having a camera.

Things are going very well so far. Hope that continues.
Old 07-01-04, 12:15 AM
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Damn, it would have been sweet to have pics like this one coming back from Titan.

Old 07-01-04, 12:41 AM
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Huygens is equipped with a camera. Wouldn't be much of a mission without one. Just pictures from the descent will be incredible, but if the probe survives landing on the surface of Titan, be it solid, sludge or liquid, one can't even imagine what amazing pictures might come back.

Overview of the mission:

http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/operation...ns-mission.cfm

During its descent, Huygens' camera will capture more than 1,100 images, while the Probe's other five instruments will sample Titan's atmosphere and determine its composition.
Details on the instrument:

http://sci.esa.int/science-e/www/obj...bodylongid=734
Old 07-01-04, 12:48 AM
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Originally posted by coladar
Huygens is equipped with a camera.
Maybe now we can finally get some good pics of Uranus!
Old 07-01-04, 02:21 AM
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Cool, glad I was wrong about that. Hopefully it gets some good pics, especially if it lands on a solid surface.
Old 07-01-04, 03:20 AM
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I think it would be just as cool to land on a liquid surface. They designed it so it could float, if only for a short time.
I wonder what direction the camera is aimed, or if it can be pointed in different directions.

Brian
Old 07-01-04, 06:28 AM
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Check out the Jupiter fly-by pics:

http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/multimedi...lyby/index.cfm

http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/jpeg/PIA04866.jpg This pic was taken on it's closest approach to Jupiter, approximately 10 million kilometers (6.2 million miles). Now, imagine the images we'll get of Saturn and it's moons when Cassini will be approximately 50 thousand miles away (give or take a couple inches).

Last edited by HN; 07-01-04 at 06:41 AM.
Old 07-01-04, 08:59 AM
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pics of the rings
Old 07-01-04, 10:48 AM
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I watched the webcast last night too since I am really into this program. I can tell why people get so bent out of shape over the NASA budget. They run great missions, but their PR is the worst I have ever seen. I mean, for the space community, this mission is HUGE, but that webcast looked like they spent $10 max on it.

If they were to spend $1 million of their $2 billion on publicity, television specials etc. for missions like this, they could easily draw a wider audience and get people interested in the space program. Half the webcast was spent watching a dopler reading! Its more fun to watch grass grow.

I mean, right now, there is a space shuttle orbitting saturn taking measurements that could change our view of our solar system and pictures the world has never seen, and nobody cares!
Old 07-01-04, 10:56 AM
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Originally posted by jookie
I mean, right now, there is a space shuttle orbitting saturn taking measurements that could change our view of our solar system and pictures the world has never seen, and nobody cares!

i hope that was just a typo
Old 07-01-04, 10:57 AM
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Is this the one that was nuclear powered and was going to blow up and kill us all?
Old 07-01-04, 10:57 AM
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Old 07-01-04, 11:01 AM
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Originally posted by Venusian
i hope that was just a typo


Whatever, I guess that was more of a rant than I thought.
Old 07-01-04, 11:03 AM
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Originally posted by asabase
Is this the one that was nuclear powered and was going to blow up and kill us all?
yup. i believe some dude from Hawaii sued NASA to stop it because studies showed that most of the atmospheric trash winds up in HI or something
Old 07-01-04, 12:03 PM
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Originally posted by asabase
Is this the one that was nuclear powered and was going to blow up and kill us all?
http://www.ne.doe.gov/space/spacepwr.html

RTGs are not nuclear reactors and have no moving parts. They use neither fission nor fusion processes to produce energy. Instead, they provide power through the natural radioactive decay of plutonium (mostly Pu-238, a non-weaponsgrade isotope).
There isn't really any other option yet if you want to go past Mars. At Saturn you would need solar panels the size of a quarter of a football field since the sun light level is so small out there.

I think one of the reasons people were upset was the gravity assist it was to use on Earth two years into its journey. Some were afraid it would crash into Earth. Galileo also used an Earth gravity assist.

Last edited by Astro; 07-01-04 at 12:27 PM.
Old 07-01-04, 12:11 PM
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Originally posted by johnglass
Maybe now we can finally get some good pics of Uranus!
Got some beautiful ones when I had a colonoscopy.

Seriously, this is extremely cool. I remember being wowed by all the pictures from the Voyager missions.
Old 07-01-04, 12:22 PM
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Bookmarked the Nasa page and will be reading it daily... Great, great stuff!

But, yeah, I was talking about this subject yesterday with a co-worker and I had to explain it... She had no clue what I was talking about, when it was launched, how it got there, etc...
Old 01-13-05, 06:09 PM
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Almost TD time

Huygens to plumb secrets of Saturn moon

http://www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/space/0...tan/index.html

CNN) -- The Huygens probe will plunge through the orange clouds of Saturn's moon Titan Friday, offering scientists their first glimpse of the mysterious moon.

"It's going to be the most exotic place we've ever seen," said Candice Hansen, a scientist for the Cassini-Huygens mission. "We've never landed on the surface of an icy satellite. We know from our pictures that there are very different kinds of geological processes."

If all goes well, the saucer-shaped Huygens will enter the thick atmosphere of Titan Friday at about 5:13 a.m. (ET). The data should start trickling in about five hours later.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is an unprecedented $3.3-billion effort between NASA, the European Space Agency and Italy's space program to study Saturn and its 33 known moons. The two vehicles were launched together from Florida in 1997.

"The mission is to explore the entire Saturnian system in considerably greater detail than we have ever been able to do before: the atmosphere, the internal structure, the satellites, the rings, the magnetosphere," said Cassini program manager Bob Mitchell at NASA.

The Huygens probe, about the size of a Volkswagen-Beetle, has been spinning silently toward Titan since it detached from the Cassini spacecraft on December 24. Cassini will remain in orbit around Saturn until at least July 2008.

"[The Cassini-Huygens mission] will probably help answer some of the big questions that NASA has in general about origins and where we came from and where life came from," said Mitchell.

Titan's atmosphere, a murky mix of nitrogen, methane and argon, resembles Earth's before life began more than 3.8 billion years ago. Scientists think the moon may shed light on how life evolved on Earth.

Finding living organisms, however, is a remote possibility. "It is not out of the question, but it is certainly not the first place I would look," said Hansen. "It's really very cold." A lack of sunlight has put Titan into a deep-freeze. Temperatures hover around -292 F (-180 C) making liquid water scarce and hindering chemical reactions needed for organic life.

New discoveries
The mysteries of Saturn, the sixth planet from the sun, have always enticed researchers. Scientists are perplexed why Saturn, a gas-giant composed primarily of hydrogen and helium, releases more energy than it absorbs from faint sunlight. Titan is also the only moon in the solar system to retain a substantial atmosphere, one even thicker than Earth's.

The 703-pound, battery-powered probe will parachute through Titan's clouds of methane and nitrogen for two and a half hours sampling gases and capturing panoramic pictures. Soon afterward, Huygens will reach the surface. However, its landing site is still a matter of conjecture. Scientists say it could be solid, slushy or even a liquid sea of ethane and hydrocarbons.

"Those are the kinds of things that we have theories about, but we really don't have data," said Hansen.

Huygens is expected to hit the upper atmosphere 789 miles (1,270 km) above the moon at a speed of about 13,700 mph (22,000 km/h). A series of three parachutes will slow the craft to just 15 mph (24 km/h). The chutes and special insulation will protect Huygens from temperature swings and violent air currents. Strong winds -- in excess of 311 mph (500 km/h) --will buffet the craft, at times dragging Huygens sideways after its parachute is deployed.

Sensors will deduce wind speed, atmospheric pressure and the conductivity of Titan's air. Methane clouds and possibly hydrocarbon rain can be analyzed by an onboard gas chromatograph. A microphone will listen for thunder.

Three rotating cameras will snap panoramic views of the moon capturing up to 1,100 images. A radar altimeter will map Titan's topography and a special lamp will illuminate the probe's landing spot to help determine the surface composition.

Engineers say they are confident that Huygens and its suite of six sensitive instruments will survive the descent.

"From an engineering standpoint, I'm very confident in a positive outcome," said Shaun Standley, an ESA systems engineer for Huygens at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. "We've been over this again and again for the last three years fine-tuning this."

As the largest and most sophisticated interplanetary vehicle ever launched, according to NASA, Cassini-Huygens has performed well on its 2.2-billion mile (3.5 billion km) journey.

Cassini crossed Saturn's rings without mishap in June 2004 and produced the most revealing photos yet of the rings and massive gas-giant. A problem with the design of an antennae on Cassini almost scrapped Huygens' mission, but engineers altered the spacecrafts' flight plans to resolve the transmission problem.

Now, Huygens is on its own.

Controllers can only that hope years of preparation will pay off. "[Huygens] is on its way, we can't contact it," said Standley. "We can't make any changes of anything that is on board. [It's] just waiting for the right moment."
Old 01-13-05, 06:15 PM
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Whatever. As soon as it takes a few pics of the alien colony, NASA will just declare that we "lost" another probe.
Old 01-13-05, 06:28 PM
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when will they be launching a probe that will insert into Uranus

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