Huygens scientists met in Arizona on 10-12 March.
6 April 1999The Huygens Science Working Team meets regularly in order to review theProbe biannual checkout results and also to prepare for the Huygens Probe mission phase that will take place in November 2004.This time, the Huygens SWT meeting was hosted by the DISR team, at theLunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona. Each team reported on the detailed analysis of their respective instrument performances during the last checkout that took place on 22 Dec 1998. All instruments are in good health and performed nominally.
The team also started to discuss how to prepare for the Huygens mission phase proper. In particular, they initiated a study to assess whether new ground-based or Earth-orbit observations, or possibly Orbiter observations made during the Saturn-approach phase, months before the Huygens mission takes place, would provide measurements that would help them to confirm the "key" "engineering" models of Titan atmosphere that have been used to design the Probe mission, in particular the thermal profile of the atmosphere and the zonal wind circulation.
The zonal wind model has been constructed from the thermal maps made by Voyager in 1981. The key uncertainty is the wind direction. Do they blow "East-to-West" or "West-to-East"? Huygens is designed to provide an answer to this fundamental Titan meteorology question; but a clear indication before the Probe is dropped into Titan's atmosphere would help to optimize the link geometry between the Probe and the Orbiter during the Probe mission.
The hosts also organised a very interesting visit to Kitt Peak, one of the greatest observatory sites in the world. The entire team enjoyed the visit, which was concluded by Cowboy-style dinner on the way back to Tucson.