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Huygens Probe Prepares for Saturn Moon Landing

CowboyNeal posted more than 9 years ago | from the setting-down dept.

Space 273

Nathan writes "A probe is about to land on one of Saturn's 35 moons, Titan. The probe is a collaboration with NASA, the European Space Agency and Italy's space program. The probe is apparently about the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. This landing should lead scientists toward new information about the atmosphere and the magnetosphere."

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eka posti (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11357175)

fo' sho'

35 (0, Offtopic)

spac3manspiff (839454) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357184)

I only see 3 on the slashdot picture

Re:35 (1)

nxtr (813179) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357254)

Look closer

Re:35 (1)

k4_pacific (736911) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357266)

Increase your monitor resolution.

Re:35 (1)

greypilgrim (799369) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357268)

Actually there are 4 in the /. picture

Re:35 (2, Funny)

spac3manspiff (839454) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357317)

How dare you call Einstein's head a moon.

Re:35 (1)

lucabrasi999 (585141) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357478)

Einstein makes it 5....

Re:35 (1)

BTWR (540147) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357330)

actually the article says there are only 33 known moons.

Re:35 (1)

archnerd (450052) | more than 9 years ago | (#11358034)

Cassini discovered some new ones a few months ago. They probably forgot to include those.

Probes (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11357187)

Never before in the history of computing has the consumer had so much power and convenience available to him. What only ten years ago was viewed as a super-computing application is now freely offered to anyone with the hardware to support it genetic sequencing, video editing, 3D graphics, explosion reproduction. It is in this climate that we must ask ourselves what the next step will be, and where we will allow it to take us.

In 1996, SGI (formerly Silicon Graphics, Inc.) swapped out their home-grown operating system and processor IRIX and MIPS, respectively for commodity components Linux and IA32. Today, SGI is in the doghouse and fares little better than any other PC vendor. Into the gap left by SGI came Apple, who in 1996 themselves purchased what is arguably the most advanced UNIX in existance: OPENSTEP, aka Mac OS X.

Now with QuickTime 6.1 and Quartz Extreme, is there anything that can stop Apple's juggernaut-like race to be king of the high-end server market? Only lack of hardware to run their crown jewels on. The Mac is so good at what it does, Apple is pressing Motorola and IBM for PowerPC chips that can meet the exhaustive demands of new high-end customers. The best of both breeds, Apple offers scalable, high-end UNIX to the Fortune 500 clientele as well as ease of use and simplicity to its private consumers. With things going so well, Apple seems to be on an unstoppable [trollaxor.com] rise.

First post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11357190)

Please listen to this legal torrent [schnits.org] . It's a demo of my friend playing piano. very pretty. Or download Suprnova [schnits.org] .

In other news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11357203)

...the probe found NO evidence of life. I repeat, NO evidence of life. The puddle that we landed into was supposed to be there...

Re:In other news... (1)

lucabrasi999 (585141) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357318)

In other news, NASA has decided that the next Saturn probe will have a sticker that says "Saturn revolves around the earth". A judge in Georgia will be reviewing the inevitable lawsuit.

Good luck! (2, Insightful)

patdabiker (710704) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357206)

I wish everybody involved good luck

Re:Good luck! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11357252)

However, It's an unmanned probe.

Re:Good luck! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11357320)

That's the only way NASA can guarantee no casualties. Well, reduce anyway ...

Re:Good luck! (1)

John Miles (108215) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357364)

It's an unmanned probe.

Shyeah. Try telling that to the men and women back at Mission Control.

Re:Good luck! (2, Funny)

lucabrasi999 (585141) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357502)

It's an unmanned probe.
Shyeah. Try telling that to the men and women back at Mission Control.

He didn't say anything about women.

Re:Good luck! (4, Funny)

lucabrasi999 (585141) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357350)

I wish everybody involved good luck

Wait...are you wishing them good luck in Metric or English measurements?

Re:Good luck! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11357637)

Thanks! Oh crap the flight director is coming I better go...

Re:Good luck! (0, Troll)

UniverseIsADoughnut (170909) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357934)

I wish titan good luck, it's the looser in this deal, it's the one getting violated.

By this time tommarow we will be able to look at more junk tossed at a another thing in space, go us.

Anyone know if the VW beetle unit of measurement that NASA loves is a SI or English unit of measure?

Re:Good luck! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11358090)

Oh, How insightful?!

Probe size (4, Funny)

TWX (665546) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357219)

"The probe is apparently about the size of a Volkswagen Beetle."

An original Beetle, or a Super Beetle? Or even a new water-cooled "New Beetle"?

With the Italian involvement, wouldn't comparing it to a Volkswagen Scirocco be more appropriate?

at least the probe isn't being compared to a Ford Probe...

Re:Probe size (2, Funny)

k4_pacific (736911) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357323)

Clearly it's not the new Beetle, as the cold temperatures on Titan would freeze the engine coolant.

Re:Probe size (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11357347)

They should compare it to a 500.. much more fun than a beetle.

Re:Probe size (1)

uberdave (526529) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357459)

How much do these differ in size... Really?

Re:Probe size (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11357567)

Super Beetle is 1" bigger all the way around than an original beetle.

Who cares about the size of a new beetle, for space exploration, it's a no-go.

Water Cooled, or diesel fueled.

Doesn't float in water.

Would tend to attract female aliens...

That last may not be a bad thing...

Re:Probe size (1)

madprogrammer (214633) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357484)

at least the probe isn't being compared to a Ford Probe...

Of course not - can you imagine the cost of a recall when it's that far away??

Re:Probe size (1)

TWX (665546) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357603)

"at least the probe isn't being compared to a Ford Probe..."
"Of course not - can you imagine the cost of a recall when it's that far away??"

Well, if they'd compared it to another Ford product, the Pinto, then it'd burn up on impact with the planet and they wouldn't even have anything left to recall...

Re:Probe size (1)

macduck (178477) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357676)

... or a Saturn Vue

Re:Popular science cliche (3, Funny)

xtermin8 (719661) | more than 9 years ago | (#11358067)

You will find very many popular science articles that use the Beetle as a standard of measurement. Most often as a weight measurement. This may have something to do with the budgets of science teachers through the last half of the 20th century. As many of them could not afford a newer model Beetle, we can safely assume its the old one.

Re:Probe size (5, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 9 years ago | (#11358211)

An original Beetle, or a Super Beetle? Or even a new water-cooled "New Beetle"?

After NASA's previous troubles with imperial measurements, I'm glad to see that they're moving to standard pop-scientific units. The standard unit of volume is based on the Super Beetle, since that was the current model when this benchmark first came into widespread use.

BTW, the standard Beetle has recently been redefined in terms of human hair; it is now defined as exactly 1.374569443*10^14 cubic human hair widths. The length of a football field and the distance from New York to San Francisco have similarly been redefined as hair multiples. These recent harmonizations will help bring a new consistency to science news stories across all media outlets.

About the size of a Volkswagon Beetle? (1)

Frennzy (730093) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357244)

I sure hope they have insurance.

Oh, and just for clarification, how many Libraries of Congress are there in a VW Beetle?

I can't wait (2, Funny)

Ghettoceleb (546150) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357245)

I hope we can find decent parking.

35 moons! (1)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357257)

What amazes me is that Mars, a planet with a third the mass of Earth, has two moons whereas we only have one. Saturn has 35 moons! And two rings!

I wish Earth were as cool as that.

As for dropping loads onto other planets, I'm not so sure this is really a great idea. If there is life up there and we pop an Earth-bacteria near it, there's no telling how bad a disaster it would be for the life colonies on Titan. If anyone remembers in Star Trek 3 when a small worm was dropped on Genesis, it evolved into a huge mutant worm that attacked Kirk and McCoy. With no natural predators, a tiny bacterium could become the worst enemy of whatever life there is on that rocky moon.

Re:35 moons! (4, Insightful)

BTWR (540147) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357298)

What amazes me is that Mars, a planet with a third the mass of Earth, has two moons

Mars has 2 captured asteroids as moons (most likely), whereas we have a gigantic almost-a-double-planet-system going. It's not surprising that Mars, one of the asteroid belt "border" planets would have such a moon (let a lone 2).

Re:35 moons! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11357381)

when a small worm was dropped on Genesis, it evolved into a huge mutant worm that attacked Kirk and McCoy.

The bateria was just mad cause Kirk had mistaken it for a sexy alien lady.

Re:35 moons! (4, Insightful)

lucabrasi999 (585141) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357428)

I wish Earth were as cool as that.

Ah, but the Earth is cooler than the other side of the pillow. Our moon is very large in comparison to the size of Earth. Viewed from afar, the Earth/Moon combination must appear to be more like a set of twin planets, instead of a planet/satellite combination. Saturns planets, while some may be large, appear to be very small in comparison to Saturn.

While none of us have experience in checking out other solar systems, I'll be willing to hypothesize that, in this galaxy, there are very few planet/satellite combinations that are very comparable in mass/size (as the Earth/Moon combo is).

Check back with me when we get to Alpha Centauri in 10,000 years.

Re:35 moons! (3, Informative)

gnuman99 (746007) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357715)

While none of us have experience in checking out other solar systems, I'll be willing to hypothesize that, in this galaxy, there are very few planet/satellite combinations that are very comparable in mass/size (as the Earth/Moon combo is).

Like the Pluto/Chiron? [nasa.gov] . Closer ration than Earth/Moon. [nasa.gov] . So there is a closer ratio example in *our* system.

Hypothesis are suppose to educated guesses based on *current* knowledge. Thus, you are not hypothesizing, but just guessing.

Re:35 moons! (0, Flamebait)

CSG_SurferDude (96615) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357885)

Ummmm, Since when is Pluto a planet?

I always thought it was a Kuiper Belt object [nasa.gov]

Re:35 moons! (1)

Frennzy (730093) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357942)

Oh, don't be pedantic.

You know as well as everyone else that Pluto has always been represented as the 9th planet to school kids. Anyone now older than maybe 5, that is.

Re:35 moons! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11357448)

As BTWR noted, our moon is huge relative to Earth when you compare it with other planet-moon systems (excepting Pluto-Chiron).

And while not infecting other planets is important, I don't think that's going to be such a problem here. Titan is F'ing cold. Any Earth water based life form would simply freeze. If there is life on Titan (which would be really cool), it'd have to have completely different chemistry.

I think this is a fantastic project. Landing on a miniature world so far away and so different from Earth. I only wish I could be there to see and experience it myself (might need to pack a few sweaters, though).

Re:35 moons! (3, Funny)

Mukaikubo (724906) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357556)

Don't worry, Planetary Protection Officers are insane. About every probe that leaves Earth is baked in an oven to sterilize it.

Re:35 moons! (1)

Yunzil (181064) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357602)

Saturn has 35 moons! And two rings!

Saturn has a lot more than two rings. [nasa.gov]

Re:35 moons! (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357616)

star trek.. the source for scientific resources!

anyways.. they're sterilised.

and moreover.. if we restrained from checking anything out anywhere for this reason, we could just take a box and close it. then we could pretend that there's a whole ecosystem going on in there with the miracle of cold fusion.

Re:35 moons! (1)

sho222 (834270) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357732)

I'm pretty sure it's too cold there for any known Earth bacteria to have even a snowball's chance in... well... hell.

Re:35 moons! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11357823)

technically earth has upto 3 moons depending on how you count them (i cant find the slashdot articles that discuss this)

one comes around i beleive every hundred years, the other is quite a bit smaller?

anyone got the sources.

Re:35 moons! (1)

Kn0xy (792482) | more than 9 years ago | (#11358079)

What your referring to is a sort of Planetary 'Penis Envy'. See, we only need 1 moon, where as less fortunate Planets, Like Mars and Saturn, need to over compensate.

/sarcasim

Failure is certain (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11357276)

No data will be coming back.

Modded -5 Redundant (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11357290)

Thank you submitter for posting what has been all over the goddamned news lately. I would have forgotten had it not been for you. Jackhole.

Titan (1)

Lancaibheal (813222) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357302)

It's very misty and murky there.

I hope the probe has windscreen wipers, otherwise it's another few million dollars down the toilet for NASA. Seriously, they need this mission to work, with their recent record, if they want to maintain any of the remnants of their credibility.

Good luck, guys.

Umm .... mars? (4, Insightful)

Craig Ringer (302899) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357421)

Dude, NASA are sending out space probes. Each one is new, different, and complex. They travel utterly incomprehensible distances and deal with really difficult environments. I'm usually astonished whenever one works.

Then there's the small matter of the mars rovers, which both worked beyond all possible expectations.

NASA have had their fair share of screw-ups, but I think if there's anything to take them to task about its their beaurocracy and the amount it costs them to do things, rather than their success rate. I'd like to see them able to lob off far more probes for less money, even if a few more failed, but that doesn't seem to be how they work.

Note that I'm no NASA fanboy, just trying to be a little realistic here.

Re:Umm .... mars? (1, Interesting)

britneys 9th husband (741556) | more than 9 years ago | (#11358083)

In other words, sending out space probes is like hitting a baseball. If you're successful four times out of ten, you're doing a great job.

Seriously though, "successful missions per billion dollars spent" is a more important metric than "successful missions per 10 missions attempted."

Not NASA. (4, Informative)

i41Overlord (829913) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357447)

The probe was built by the ESA, not NASA. Cassini is NASA, Huygens probe is ESA.

And NASA's Mars rovers are still going strong, whereas the ESA's Beagle is just a crater.

Re:Not NASA. (1)

mfago (514801) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357640)

The probe was built by ESA, but at least one of the instruments (the UV interferometer?) was built in the USA by my former co-workers.

But Not ESA Either (5, Informative)

Z Chameleon (39654) | more than 9 years ago | (#11358073)

Beagle 2 [open.ac.uk] was not an ESA probe but rather a British project which piggybacked on ESA's Mars Express [esa.int] orbiter (which is going strong by the way).

Re:Titan (1)

mowler2 (301294) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357456)

I believe the Huygens probe is financed and constructed by ESA (European Space Agency), it "only" got a ride to saturn with the NASA satelite "Cassini".

Works great! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11357499)

I hope the probe has windscreen wipers

I replaced my windshield with a screen and the rain just runs right through the little holes so I never need to use the wipers.

Timeline and (better) coverage... (5, Informative)

John Miles (108215) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357308)

... at SpaceFlight Now [spaceflightnow.com]

It'd be worth staying up for, but the last time I did that, I jinxed the Mars Polar Lander. :(

If the Huygens timeline executes as planned, it will rank among the coolest engineering achievements in history. It will also have happened thanks to one guy who kept his eye on the ball [ieee.org] when nobody else was paying attention.

Re:Timeline and (better) coverage... (1)

M. Silver (141590) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357654)

Getting up early for, here... the lo cal science museum is doing live coverage in the CyberDome (though somehow I doubt the projection is actually going to be in the round, more's the pity). 5 am local time.

I almost feel like I should get up early for it, it being one of the few astronomical events we don't have to worry about cloud cover for. (If not for the four-year-old, we might. He's a proto-geek, but that'd be pushing it.)

Re:Timeline and (better) coverage... (4, Informative)

wallitron (308146) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357783)

Nice save.

"In short: Cassini is at Saturn, and about to launch the Huygens probe into Titan's atmosphere (splashdown 14th January 2005). The communication link between Huygens and Cassini was not thoroughly tested before launch. Some thoughtful engineer realised this might be a problem, and after some pushing against resistance, managed to test Cassini's response to how they expect the signal from Huygens to look. Surprise suprise, Houston we have a problem. Turns out, the original engineers took account of doppler shift in the carrier wave, but not in the encoded data. D'oh! Problem is encoded in firmware, can't be fixed after launch. Double d'oh! So instead, they've altered Cassini's trajectory to eliminate the doppler shift. Hurrah for Boris Smeds!"

http://gimbo.org.uk/archives/2005/01/boris_smeds_v s.html [gimbo.org.uk]

Re:Timeline and (better) coverage... (2, Interesting)

Basehart (633304) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357847)

When I watched this launch I remember wondering what I'd be doing in January 2005. It seemed like so far in the future back in 1997. Meanwhile that spaceraft has been getting further and futher away from us, travelling thousands of miles an hour, and now we're only a few hours from touchdown on a distant moon.

How totally exciting, to be here in the future :-)

More detailed timeline and overview (1)

andreMA (643885) | more than 9 years ago | (#11358224)

in this 2.4MB PDF [nasa.gov] .

Interesting article tidbits (2, Funny)

ZiZ (564727) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357309)

The Cassini-Huygens mission is an unprecedented $3.3-billion effort between NASA, the European Space Agency and Italy's space program to study Saturn and its 33 known moons.

I didn't know Italy had a space program, though I suppose it makes sense.

"It's really very cold." ... Temperatures hover around -292 F (-180 C) ...

And the understatement award of the year goes to...Candice Hansen, a scientist for the Cassini-Huygens mission!

Re:Interesting article tidbits (1)

lucabrasi999 (585141) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357550)

I didn't know Italy had a space program

Your comment about the Italians reminded me of this old joke [jokesmagazine.com]

A sight no one has ever seen before... (2, Insightful)

Maxim Kovalenko (764126) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357321)

What gets to me about this is the fact that we will truly be seeing something that no human being has ever seen before... I just hope that everything works according to plan...and that they land with a splash instead of a thud :)

Re:A sight no one has ever seen before... (1)

k4_pacific (736911) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357369)

I think it'd be really cool if it landed with "gulp".

Re:A sight no one has ever seen before... (1)

Frennzy (730093) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357436)

AHHAHAHAH!! Brilliant!

I literally just spit vodka out of my nose. :)

Not quite true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11357387)

There have been several CIA and DOD investigations into the landscape of other planets using "remote viewing", also known colloquially as "astral projections". Under the auspices of the CIA [fas.org] , remote viewing was used to accurately predict world events as well as extraterrestrial events (asteroid encounters, etc).

So when you say "no human being has ever seen before", you are halfway correct. No human being has been to Titan before, but there have been humans that have "seen" Titan before.

Re:Not quite true (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11357542)

I've see Uranus, too. And it's not worth the trip.

Re:A sight no one has ever seen before... (3, Interesting)

spaceyhackerlady (462530) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357897)

What gets to me about this is the fact that we will truly be seeing something that no human being has ever seen before...

What I've thought was so cool about all of this is that they've taken IR pictures throgh the haze. They can see things, but they haven't a clue what they're looking at. Now that's cool!

I've seen Titan myself many times, but only as a tiny spark of light along for the ride with Saturn. I've seen 5 of the 35 moons through my backyard telescope.

I wish the ESA folks all the best.

...laura

Re:A sight no one has ever seen before... (1)

DarkTempes (822722) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357917)

a thud would actually be better than a splash in a sense a splash will mean that the batteries will drain faster...a thud could mean up to over 2 hours of battery time or something like that it's not going to be landing at a very high speed if things go right (like under 10mph IIRC) so it shouldn't need a splash to survive ;)

I smell a spinoff TV movie and possible series... (4, Funny)

Jaidon (843279) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357356)

"The probe is apparently about the size of a Volkswagen Beetle"

called "Herbie the Love Probe." Wait...that doesn't sound right. It won't be a TV movie, it'll be the new hot pr0n on satellite. It'll certainly be easy to transmit!

I'm so going to hell now.

Re:I smell a spinoff TV movie and possible series. (1)

TrippTDF (513419) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357774)

I got herpes from a love probe once...

Re:I smell a spinoff TV movie and possible series. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11357856)

You know, NASA would make a FOURTUNE if they sold these so-called "Love Probes" of yours in their gift shop. I'll refrain from telling any jokes about how the probe's first mission is to Uranus. Oops.

Here is a Countdown (4, Informative)

mowler2 (301294) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357378)

Here [esa.int] is the official ESA countdown! At the moment, it's only 4 hours left! :) However, after landing, it will take another 5 hours before the data starts coming in, and we know wether it was a success or a failure.

In the application, you can also fastforward and see what Cassini does in the coming years.

Re:Here is a Countdown (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11358020)

That is a seriously kick-ass applet. Thanks for posting the link.

For those interested in discussing this on irc (4, Informative)

yuriwho (103805) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357443)

please join our irc channel #space on irc.freenode.net

This channel is devoted to discussion of space science, current, past and future space missions.

This channel is frequented by a lot of knowledgeable folk. And please keep the discussion on topic ;-)

Y

Re:For those interested in discussing this on irc (1)

yuriwho (103805) | more than 9 years ago | (#11358030)

I should also add that there is an article on FoxCheck.org [foxcheck.org] (a scoop site) that has a bunch of informative links and will be updated over the next day or two with more info and developments as they happen.

Please stop by and check it out.

Y

Huygens on IRC (1)

RefriedBean (615424) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357457)

Don't forget to check out #Space on irc.freenode.net for a discussion of the Fuygens events today!

Failz0rs.. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11357467)

from one folder on conglomerate in the NNED YOUR HELP! Would chhose to use Could save it isn't a lemonade

Not just images... (3, Interesting)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357513)

but hopefully audio as well.
From SpaceflightNow [spaceflightnow.com]
"Also among the expected post-landing data are sounds from a microphone that might capture the rustling of frigid nitrogen winds or lapping waves."

No offence (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11357527)

Nothing against them personally, but surely a better link for this could have been found than "India Daily" ???

Alex's Ship (1)

moojin (124799) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357549)

I wonder if they'll find Alex WildStar's missile ship #17... Perhaps, they'll even find his gun. Watch out for the Gamelon tank...

If you don't what I'm talking about, then you've probably never had the pleasure of watching the "Star Blazers" series... I used to run home from the school bus stop to watch it...

Andrew

So many ads (1)

tylernt (581794) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357551)

After using Adblock in Firefox to block half a dozen ad iframes, that website that the article links to is pretty stark. Almost boring. I nearly had to turn the ads back on.

Only a few hours until it makes a crater on Titan. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11357554)

I'll say it- I have no faith in the ESA.

As much as people like to knock NASA, they have vast amounts of experience while the ESA talks a good line but can't deliver the goods. People on Slashdot tend to love the underdog while they rag non-stop on the guy on top. In this case, NASA gets ragged while the ESA is always viewed as "vastly superior".

Remember the Mars mission? Before Beagle "landed", I heard nonstop talk from European scientists that their mission had superior science to the American craft. It's always the same lines, revolving around the European view that they are smarter and more capable than Americans.

I don't expect this mission to be much different. While NASA's Cassini works flawlessly, the ESA's Huygens probe will deliver superior science just like Beagle. It, too, will fail.

Please don't mod me down for expressing my view. This is not a troll.

Re:Only a few hours until it makes a crater on Tit (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11357683)

Your point is made in a prejudicial and inflammatory manner, so if it's modded down, that'll be why.

However, some of those prejudices do seem to be rooted in reality. The Italian contractor for the radio link between Huygens and Cassini screwed up the design -- badly -- and refused to release full specifications to the US engineers who discovered the problem. The Europeans evidently don't know what the term "team player" means. (And the Americans don't seem to know what "trust but verify" means.)

If this thing works at all, it will be despite of, and not because of, the technical contributions of the European partners.

Re:Only a few hours until it makes a crater on Tit (1)

multi io (640409) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357906)

Beagle was an unpowered landing capsule; it costed a fraction of what NASA's mars rovers cost. It was, to a large part, an experiment to see whether such a low-cost approach could work. The high failure probability was anticipated. The main fraction (75% ?) of the money went into the orbiter (Mars Express), which works flawlessly to this day (as do the NASA rovers, yes).

And I agree that the Italian contractor fucked it up badly.

IF it fails (1)

digitalgimpus (468277) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357565)

They can just say it's another "Deep Impact [theregister.co.uk] " probe.

Nobody would even know :-D

The probe is a collaboration with NASA, the Europe (1)

melted (227442) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357572)

>> The probe is a collaboration with NASA, the
>> European Space Agency

Oh, boy, this will be a hard landing then. NASA shoulds send rovers to repair this thing after it "lands".

Re:The probe is a collaboration with NASA, the Eur (1)

Hirsto (601188) | more than 9 years ago | (#11358241)

Your sig is awfully similar to one I received years ago in an email from a fellow at Tek.

this just in from Titan... (2, Funny)

seven of five (578993) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357578)

"I for one welcome our Earthly overlords..."

Good luck (2, Funny)

g0dsp33d (849253) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357611)

Hats off to NASA for the 2 rovers, lets hope we learn as much from this. Scary thought, Windows Space Probe Edition. Huygens: image source = bl_scr01.jpg NASA: Crap.

Fingers Crossed (1)

Snork Asaurus (595692) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357630)

A probe is about to land on one of Saturn's 35 moons, Titan ... The probe is apparently about the size of a Volkswagen Beetle.

Let's hope the probe's designers had lots of Landingvergnugen.

VLBI observations of Huygens' descent (5, Interesting)

zennor (802932) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357685)

The data transmitted by Huygens will be uploaded to the Cassini spaceprobe and then transmitted by Cassini back to Earth several times. This data will be received by the NASA DSN dishes such as that a Tidbinbilla near Canberra in Australia.

Separate to this will be a unique experimental observation organised by JIVE, the Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe that will involve 17 radio telescopes around the world including the Parkes dish in NSW. They will monitor the weak signal of the Huygens probe directly to detct any doppler shift in the signal. Using VLBI (Very Long Baseline Interferometry) astronomers hope to be able to pinpoint the entry of Huygens into Titan's atmosphere to within 1 km. As it descends under parachute they also hope to use doppler shifts to measure the speed of the wind at different levels in the atmosphere. Should be an interesting observation.

(Disclaimer; I work for one of the institutes involved in this experiment)

Re:VLBI observations of Huygens' descent (1)

Witchblade (9771) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357980)

Sweeeeeeeeeeeet.

Why oh why (1)

aeroegnr (806702) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357731)

doesn't the probe have an RTG or some power source other than a battery? It's a shame to have come all this way with only a very short operating life for the probe.

Re:Why oh why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11357765)

It was hard enough to launch Cassini with one RTG without a bunch of unwashed treehuggers chaining themselves to the pad.

Re:Why oh why (2, Insightful)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357946)

doesn't the probe have an RTG or some power source other than a battery? It's a shame to have come all this way with only a very short operating life for the probe.

Once it leaves the insulating vacuum of space and settles into the -300F atmosphere of Titan (almost as cold as liquid nitrogen), the probe is going to freeze solid in short order. It would probably be hard to include an RTG with enough juice to keep it warm on Titan without it overheating the probe on the 7-year trip.

decent countdown (1)

g0dsp33d (849253) | more than 9 years ago | (#11357961)

As of 12:40 am eastern, NASA's countdown stands at 4 hours and 37 minutes for Huygens' decent. Should be some interesting news tommorrow morning.
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