SPC Report February 2006
Huygens Data Archiving
Work proceeds smoothly to archive the Huygens data set in the ESA Planetary Science Archive (PSA) and to open them to public access by July 2006.
The Cassini Orbiter acquired a RADAR/SAR image of the Huygens landing site area with a resolution better than 2 km during the 8th targeted Titan flyby that occurred on 28 October 2005. After one month of hard work carried out jointly by the Huygens/DISR and the Orbiter/RADAR teams, it has been possible to locate precisely the Huygens mosaic within the RADAR image of Titan's surface. Work is still required to find the absolute coordinates of the Huygens landing site. It is expected that the Huygens VLBI observations, when fully processed, will be a great help to pin down the Huygens landing site coordinates to a few kilometre accuracy. Once complete, this work should allow to better disentangling the latitudinal and the longitudinal drifts of the probe, hence to get the full picture of the winds experienced by the Probe during its descent. Further work will permit to use the Huygens data as the "ground-truth" for the orbiter observations.
The Huygens achievements have been praised by several media as one of the greatest scientific achievements in 2005. Worth noting are the first ranking from the Astronomy Magazine and the runner-up position from the Science magazine of the results of the Robotic exploration of the Solar System with a special mentioning of the successful Huygens landing on Titan.
A series of coordinated scientific papers were recently published in Nature. A special agreement was worked between ESA and Nature that allowed providing good visibility to the Huygens papers, which have been made freely accessible on Nature’s web site for 3 months.