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Bouncing on Titan: Motion of the Huygens probe in the seconds after landing

Bouncing on Titan: Motion of the Huygens probe in the seconds after landing

Publication date: 24 August 2012

Authors: Schröder, S.E., et al.

Journal: Planetary and Space Science
Year: 2012

Copyright: Elsevier Ltd.

Available online 23 August 2012

While landing on Titan, several instruments onboard Huygens acquired measurements that indicate the probe did not immediately come to rest. Detailed knowledge of the probe's motion can provide insight into the nature of Titan's surface. Combining accelerometer data from the Huygens Atmospheric Structure Instrument (HASI) and the Surface Science Package (SSP) with photometry data from the Descent Imager/Spectral Radiometer (DISR) we develop a quantitative model to describe motion of the probe, and its interaction with the surface. The most likely scenario is the following. Upon impact, Huygens created a 12 cm deep hole in the surface of Titan. It bounced back, out of the hole onto the flat surface, after which it commenced a 30-40 cm long slide in the southward direction. The slide ended with the probe out of balance, tilted in the direction of DISR by around 10°. The probe then wobbled back and forth five times in the north-south direction, during which it probably encountered a 1-2 cm sized pebble. The SSP provides evidence for movement up to 10 s after impact. This scenario puts the following constraints on the physical properties of the surface ... [Abstract abbreviated due to character limitations.]

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