October 15, 1997. Cassini made a beautiful and perfect launch. I had just met my wife-to-be. I had no kids of my own.
January 14, 2005: Cassini drops Huygens probe on Titan. One of my all-time favoritest moments:
September 15, 2017: Cassini’s fuel has finally run out. It will take an intentional dive into the atmosphere of Saturn. Taking pics and measurements along the way, it will very doubtfully reach anything resembling a surface. Instead it will burn up and disintegrate along the way, just barely scraping the highest of Saturn’s mostly Hydrogen, incredibly windy atmosphere. I just celebrated my 16th anniversary, my son is fourteen years old.
U.S. and European researchers are lauding the effectiveness of a network of ground-based telescopes that has apparently salvaged a wind experiment feared lost during a mission to the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan.
Astronomers were able to use a global group of radio telescopes and a simple signal tone bleated by Europe’s Huygens probe during its Jan. 14 Titan landing to determine the moon’s wind characteristics.
That is pretty dang cool. I’d still like to see more pictures than what we apparently got. Titan’s a pretty funky place apparently.
The probe was to transmit data on two channels, A and B, Atkinson said. His Doppler wind experiment was to use Channel A, a very stable frequency.
But the order to activate the receiver, or oscillator, for Channel A was never sent, so the entire mission operated through Channel B, which is less stable, Atkinson said……..
That’s right. They forgot to turn it on. In the eight years Huygens/Cassini was in route, no one made a checklist of what all needed to be done when it got there. NASA is examining what went wrong. I think it’s simple. Find who was responsible for Channel A and fire them.
Wonder whatever happened to the guy who forgot to convert metric to feet on the lost Mars mission?
October 10, 2006 update: This isn’t new, but it’s still extremely cool. It’s a montage of pics from the Huygens’ landing to show what it would have looked like during the landing. Very cool. One of the coolest things I’ve ever seen from space!