Huygens probe

Huygens probe

Solar system

Huygens probe

Huygens probe – The Huygens rover, which began its journey to Saturn with the Cassini spacecraft, was designed to study one of Saturn’s most important moons, Titan. At about 1:30 p.m. on Friday, September 24, the famous spacecraft Cassini probe, which was launched to Saturn twenty years ago on a mission to obtain information from the sixth planet of the solar system, will sink into the atmosphere of this gas giant due to running out of fuel and will soon turn to ashes. Becomes; However, the Huygens probe, launched by Cassini to explore Saturn’s famous moon Titan, will continue to live on Saturn’s moon at the end of its host spacecraft mission. The Huygens rover, which will be about 1.6 million kilometers away at the time of Cassini’s death, is likely to be on the same surface as Titan where it first landed twelve years ago. The task of building and piloting this relatively small robot, which was launched to Saturn on a joint mission between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), was the responsibility of the ESA from the beginning. Eight years after the launch of Cassini, the Huygens spacecraft The 1.5 billion-kilometer stretch was connected to its vehicle, detached from the robot, and landed on Titan’s moon three weeks later.

Huygens probe

Although the Cassini spacecraft has continued to orbit Saturn for about nine years longer than the lifespan estimated by NASA aerospace engineers and has been transmitting valuable information to Earth since reaching the gas giant, the Huygens probe also contributed. He has achieved great honors and has registered his name as the only device that landed on a celestial body on the other side of an important part of the solar system called the Asteroid Belt. Two spacecraft It is interesting to note that in the early 1980s, scientists thought of exploring the sixth planet of the solar system, and on this mission the name of Giovanni Domenico Cassini, ‌ an Italian astronomer who first discovered four of Saturn’s moons. Seen, chose. Towards the end of this decade, the ESA named the Huygens after a Titan probe in honor of Christiaan Huygens, a Dutch scientist who discovered Titan’s moon in 1034.

Galileo spacecraft

The surface of Titan’s moon was unknown before a joint NASA-ESA mission, and because of its size, which is larger than Pluto and Mars, and the celestial body’s suitable conditions for survival, information about Titan was so important that the Huygens probe did so. According to telescopes, Titan’s moon has an orange, nitrogen-rich atmosphere that is always in a significant amount of fog due to the conversion of methane to hydrogen cyanide and other hydrocarbons; In 2004, astronomer Toby Owen of the University of Hawaii published an article on the Huygens probe, which provided an interesting explanation of the possible conditions under Titan’s dense moons. They expected to encounter various conditions on the surface of Titan’s moon; From oceans filled with ethane to hard land made up of hydrocarbon sediments or a pasty, swampy surface. However, the final design was to ensure the survival of the Huygens spacecraft against the friction of Titan’s atmosphere and to keep it afloat in the existing liquid phase if it landed in the ocean.

But it was possible that all of these designs would never be tested on Saturn’s moon due to NASA’s 1996 budget problems; NASA was struggling to fund the Cassini project at the time, and the European Space Agency needed to send a Huygens probe into a NASA vehicle. That’s why ESA intervened in the plans for the Saturn spacecraft and somehow provided the necessary facilities to carry out this mission. After sending these two space robots to Saturn, a Swedish engineer named Boris Smeds, who is on a mission Cassini was involved; Huygens, which contained various sensors to record the sound of Titan’s moon winds, analyze the celestial body’s atmospheric chemicals, and collect various types of data, did not have enough power to send the collected information independently to Earth and relied on the Cassini spacecraft to carry out its mission. Eads found that if Cassini moved at the intended speed (5.5 km / s), the data sent from Huygens to the spacecraft would be disrupted by the Doppler effect and the transmitter and receiver. In a series of experiments, the Swedish scientist persuaded Cassini’s mission officials to change the route intended for Cassini during orbit so that the Huygens probe information could be fully transmitted to Cassini and transmitted to Earth from there. . After this incident, the time Huygens’ separation from Cassini was postponed to January 25, 2004.

Huygens probe

Early information from the Huygens probe clarified many of the ambiguities about the moon; The robot’s sensors reported the presence of liquid methane beneath Titan’s surface, which was released into the surrounding air, bringing the atmosphere to its current state. In this regard, an article by European scientists ESA was published in the journal “Nature” in which, according to information sent by Huygens, the similarities in meteorology, geology, and sedimentation between Saturn and Earth are mentioned. Like liquid water on Earth, Titan’s moon contains liquid methane. Instead of silicate rocks, there is a significant amount of ice in this celestial body, and the moon’s soil is composed of hydrocarbon particles that settle to the ground when suspended in the atmosphere. Some chemists believe that despite the extremely low temperatures, these similarities, in theory, make Titan more suitable for hosting microbial life.

Erich Karkoschka, a scientist at the University of Arizona, has stated in various papers on the geological condition of Titan that the celestial body appears to be much more vibrant than Earth, given the location of the Huygens probe near the river and mountain bed; Whereas if the spacecraft were to land accidentally on a portion of the earth, it would most likely be in the ocean. Made available to the public in this regard; After entering Titan’s atmosphere and approaching the lunar surface, the robot experienced a slight jump and vibration and was stationary for ten seconds after landing. This type of landing was significantly different from a Huygens-sized object falling into the snow, and there was evidence that methane oceans were flowing beneath the landing site. The Titan surface was designed to fail about two hours after landing and cut off communication with Cassini forever. During those two hours, as well as between the time Cassini left and landed on Titan, the Huygens spacecraft gathered valuable information and did not leave the efforts of the European Space Agency and NASA researchers unanswered.

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