Engineers Solve 15-Year Mystery That Troubles Spacecraft Landings. The Huygens spacecraft, sent by the European Space Agency to Titan 15 years ago, had unexpected problems during its landing. The source of this problem can only be found today.
The European Space Agency sent a spacecraft to the satellite 15 years ago to investigate Saturn’s largest satellite, Titan. However, this spacecraft, called Huygens, began to experience serious problems as it landed on the mysterious Titan.
As Huygens approached Titan’s surface quickly, he began to turn around as fast as he could for 2 hours and 27 minutes. Huygens landed successfully on January 14, 2005 in spite of the serious and unknown cause, and became the first spacecraft to land on Titan.
The source of Huygens’ problem was unknown:
To date, no solution has been reached as to why Huygens faces such a problem. During his landing at Titan, Huygens was able to gather important information about the atmospheric pressure, density and temperature of the satellite. However, the factor that caused Huygens to revolve around itself was unknown.
Researchers have already predicted that Huygens will turn counterclockwise during his descent to Titan. The predictions were correct, Huygens made 7.5 rounds per minute. But then unexpected events began to develop.
Huygens began to descend to Titan, 10 minutes after the first stage, suddenly abruptly, instead of turning counterclockwise, began to turn around clockwise. Of course, this confused the researchers at the European Space Agency. The researchers did not expect a sudden change in the direction of rotation of the spacecraft.
The mystery of Huygens could only be solved today:
Today, a new wind tunnel simulation at the University of Orleans in France has shed light on Huygens’ problem. According to this wind tunnel, the unexpected change in Huygens’ direction of rotation was due to an important system in the spacecraft.
The researchers prepared a 1: 3 copy of Huygens and put it into the wind tunnel test. The test found that the eration Seperation Subsystem ’system in Huygens and the Alt Radar Altimater’ antenna generate unexpected torque in the opposite direction to the torque generated by the fins.
With this evidence, researchers began to suspect a device called uy Huygens Atmospheric Structure Instrument de. The researchers’ suspicions were that the instrument might not have been fully opened. Thus, three different experimental scenarios were put into the test, where the instruments could never be opened, half opened or fully opened.
Although the final stage of the research has not yet been concluded, finding the source of the problem in Huygens is crucial for future tasks. NASA plans to carry out a mission involving Saturn and its satellites in 2026.