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Cassini–Huygens Probe

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Author Topic: Cassini–Huygens Probe  (Read 195 times)
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« on: June 21, 2007, 01:51:20 am »

The Huygens probe had six complex instruments aboard that took in a wide range of scientific data after the probe descended into Titan's atmosphere. The six instruments are:

Huygens Atmospheric Structure Instrument (HASI)

This instrument contains a suite of sensors that measured the physical and electrical properties of Titan's atmosphere. Accelerometers measured forces in all three axes as the probe descended through the atmosphere. With the aerodynamic properties of the probe already known, it was possible to determine the density of Titan's atmosphere and to detect wind gusts. The probe was designed so that in the event of a landing on a liquid surface, its motion due to waves would also have been measurable. Temperature and pressure sensors measured the thermal properties of the atmosphere. The Permittivity and Electromagnetic Wave Analyzer component measured the electron and ion (i.e., positively charged particle) conductivities of the atmosphere and searched for electromagnetic wave activity. On the surface of Titan, the conductivity and permittivity (i.e., the ratio of electric flux density produced to the strength of the electric field producing the flux) of the surface material was measured. The HASI subsystem also contains a microphone, which was used to record any acoustic events during probe's descent and landing; [3] this was only the second time in history that audible sounds from another planetary body had been recorded (a Venera-13 recording being the first).

Doppler Wind Experiment (DWE)

This experiment used an ultra-stable oscillator to improve communication with the probe by giving it a very stable carrier frequency. This instrument was also used to measure the wind speed in Titan's atmosphere by measuring the Doppler shift in the carrier signal. The swinging motion of the probe beneath its parachute due to atmospheric properties may also have been detected. Although the failure of one of Huygens's data channels resulted in this data being lost to Cassini, enough was picked up by Earth-based radio telescopes to reconstruct it. Measurements started 150 kilometres above Titan's surface, where Huygens was blown eastwards at more than 400 kilometres per hour, agreeing with earlier measurements of the winds at 200 kilometres altitude, made over the past few years using telescopes. Between 60 and 80 kilometres, Huygens was buffeted by rapidly fluctuating winds, which are thought to be vertical wind shear. At ground level, the Earth-based doppler shift and VLBI measurements show gentle winds of a few metres per second, roughly in line with expectations.
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