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The Huygens Probe

The Huygens Probe

Publication date: 01 November 1997

Authors: Hassan, H. & Jones, J.C.

Journal: ESA Bulletin
Volume: 92
Year: 1997

Copyright: ESA

Many engineering challenges had to be overcome in designing the first probe planned to study a moon beyond the Earth's system. An extensive development programme was undertaken, involving several unusual tests, driven by the mission's unique aspects. ESA's Huygens Probe will be delivered to Titan, Saturn's largest satellite, by the Cassini Orbiter in 2004. After a dormant interplanetary journey of 6.7 years - although Huygens will be activated every 6 months for health checks - its aeroshell will decelerate it in less than 3 min from the entry speed of 6 kms-1 to 400 ms-1 (Mach 1.5) by about 160 km altitude. From that point, a pre-programmed sequence will trigger parachute deployment and heat-shield ejection. The main scientific mission can then begin, lasting for the whole of the Probe's 2-2.5 h descent.

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