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Cassini–Huygens Probe

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Author Topic: Cassini–Huygens Probe  (Read 195 times)
Abraxas
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« on: June 21, 2007, 01:54:24 am »



Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer (GC/MS)

This instrument is a versatile gas chemical analyzer that was designed to identify and measure chemicals in Titan's atmosphere.[4] It was equipped with samplers that were filled at high altitude for analysis. The mass spectrometer built a model of the molecular masses of each gas, and a more powerful separation of molecular and isotopic species was accomplished by the gas chromatograph.[5] During descent, the GC/MS also analyzed pyrolysis products (i.e., samples altered by heating) passed to it from the Aerosol Collector Pyrolyser. Finally, the GC/MS measured the composition of Titan's surface. This investigation was made possible by heating the GC/MS instrument just prior to impact in order to vaporize the surface material upon contact. The GC/MS was developed by the Goddard Space Flight Center and University of Michigan's Space Physics Research Lab.


Aerosol Collector and Pyrolyser (ACP)

The ACP experiment drew in aerosol particles from the atmosphere through filters, then heated the trapped samples in ovens (using the process of pyrolysis) to vaporize volatiles and decompose the complex organic materials. The products were flushed along a pipe to the GC/MS instrument for analysis. Two filters were provided to collect samples at different altitudes.[6] The ACP was developed by a (French) ESA team at the Laboratoire Inter-Universitaire des Systèmes Atmosphériques (LISA).


Surface-Science Package (SSP)

The SSP contained a number of sensors designed to determine the physical properties of Titan's surface at the point of impact, whether the surface was solid or liquid. An acoustic sounder, activated during the last 100 meters of the descent, continuously determined the distance to the surface, measuring the rate of descent and the surface roughness (e.g., due to waves). The instrument was designed so that if the surface were liquid, the sounder would measure the speed of sound in the "ocean" and possibly also the subsurface structure (depth). During descent, measurements of the speed of sound gave information on atmospheric composition and temperature, and an accelerometer recorded the deceleration profile at impact, indicating the hardness and structure of the surface. A tilt sensor measured pendulum motion during the descent and was also designed to indicate the probe's attitude after landing and show any motion due to waves. If the surface had been liquid, other sensors would also have measured its density, temperature and light reflecting properties, thermal conductivity, heat capacity, and electrical properties (permittivity and conductivity). A penetrometer instrument, that protruded 55mm past the bottom of the Huygens probe descent module, was used to create a penetrometer trace as Huygens landed on the surface by measuring the force exerted on the instrument by the surface as the instrument broke though the surface and was pushed down into the planet by the force of the probe landing itself. The trace shows this force as a function of time over a period of about 400ms. The trace has an initial spike which suggests that the instrument hit one of the icy pebbles on the surface photographed by the DISR camera.

The Huygens SSP was developed by Space Sciences Department of the University of Kent and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory Space Science Department under the direction of Professor John Zarnecki. The SSP research and responsibility transferred to the Open University when John Zarnecki transferred in 2000.

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