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Fraser
2004-Nov-09, 06:53 PM
SUMMARY: Cassini's close flyby to Titan in October has only added to the mystery of what the Huygens probe will find on the moon's surface when it tries to land in January. It could land on a hard surface of rock and ice, or maybe it'll land with a squelch into a slurry of organic materials, or maybe it'll splash down into a hydrocarbon lake. Fortunately, the probe is designed to handle all three landing surfaces, and it should be able to transmit details about Titan as long as it survives.

What do you think about this story? Post your comments below.

Robbi Luscombe Newman
2004-Nov-10, 06:18 AM
I hope the probe is fully sterile? Imagine if Titan was the only other place in the universe that has life and we infect and destroy it. Something we are good at doing on earth.
Whats the status?

Guest
2004-Nov-10, 10:55 PM
Let's hope this probe lands in a safe spot, getting pictures from the surface of Titan should be great

I hope it doesn't crash like Beagle or Genesis

om@umr.edu
2004-Nov-11, 12:24 AM
That is an interesting question, somewhat like that faced by those planning the Apollo landings on our Moon in the 1960s.

As I recall, Harold Urey was one who voiced concerns that our early astronauts might land in a "slurry of organic materials" on the Moon.

We now know that our Moon's surface is rocky and has been extensively re-worked.

We have indications of a primordial heterogeneity in material that formed the planetary system:

a.) The outer part of the solar system consisted mostly of volatile elements - like H, He, C and N.

b.) The inner part was riched in elements of rocky planets and meteorites - like Fe, O, Si and S.

In view of these findings, it is reasonable to consider the possibility that Huygens probe may "land with a squelch into a slurry of organic materials, or maybe it'll splash down into a hydrocarbon lake."

With kind regards,

Oliver
http://www.umr.edu/~om

Janice
2004-Nov-11, 03:41 AM
<_< Call me a bitter cynic but I&#39;m not going to hold my breath until the thing lands safely. ;) But I am curious as to what&#39;s up (or down, depending on perspective) there. :D

om@umr.edu
2004-Nov-11, 03:17 PM
Time will tell, Janice.

That is the beauty and hope of science.

Of course, we have to invest that time in additional measurements and observations&#33;

With kind regards,

Oliver
http://www.umr.edu/~om

Duane
2004-Nov-11, 08:00 PM
We have indications of a primordial heterogeneity in material that formed the planetary system:

a.) The outer part of the solar system consisted mostly of volatile elements - like H, He, C and N.

b.) The inner part was riched in elements of rocky planets and meteorites - like Fe, O, Si and S.


Just to be clear here, the indications noted by Dr Manuel are based on studies he and others did on meteorites and moon rocks brought back by the Apollo astronauts. Newer studies performed on those same meteorites along with several others not available to Dr Manuel at the time of his studies, have consistantly shown that the meteorites evidence substancial mixing and multiple inclusion events, suggesting a very homogenous mix of material formed the sun and its planets.

In this scenerio, the inner region was swept clean of lighter-massed elements when the protosun ignited, and the subsequent T-Tauri stage of the sun pulled excess H and He and other elements into its jets. While some of this material escaped the system, most rained back, thus enriching the outter regions.

Duane
2004-Nov-11, 08:02 PM
I hope they didn&#39;t equip the probe with the same system for firing the parachutes as they did on Genesis. If so, it may not be a "splush"--it may be a "splat"&#33;

Richard0802
2004-Nov-12, 01:00 AM
The point I would make is that we don&#39;t know what the Huygens probe parachutes are made of in terms of material, remember the surface temperature at -180 degrees. White the temperature at the top of Titan&#39;s atmosphere may be reasonable, the more the probe descends the temperature will drop dramatically. :(

At Yule Tide, when your shirt is out on the washing line to dry, and its a bitter frost outside, it turns to cardboard right. I suspect that the Huygens probes&#39; parachutes will do the same the deeper it descends. After this point, either the chutes will crumble and fall apart, or freeze so solid they behave like solid iron. ;)

Therefore, the Cassini Huygens probe will be lucky to reach the moon&#39;s surface intact, so to land in a cryogenic lake or splurge onto Titan&#39;s surface will be a savior for the little craft.

I think the probes chances of survival upon landing on Titan are about 35% GOOD and 65% BAD --- and I am an optimist&#33; :D

om@umr.edu
2004-Nov-12, 01:17 AM
You are wrong, Duane.

Measurements have not shown that "a very homogenous mix of material formed the sun and its planets."

Xe-1 associated with Fe, O, Si, and S in the inner part of the solar system never mixed with

Xe-2 associated with H, He, C, and N in the outer part of the solar system.

See Figs. 1 and 2 in this arXiv paper.
http://www.arxiv.org/ftp/astro-ph/papers/0...410/0410717.pdf (http://www.arxiv.org/ftp/astro-ph/papers/0410/0410717.pdf)

With kind regards,

Oliver
http://www.umr.edu/~om

Richard0802
2004-Nov-12, 01:27 AM
Now I am totally lost and confused --- The way our solar system fromed 5 billion years ago is one thing, but to jump to the point whether the HUygen&#39;s probe will have a safe landing on Titan is another ... oooh ... I think I&#39;m entering thE TWILIGHT ZONE :rolleyes: :P :blink: :D

We are debating whether the Cassini Huygens probe will have a safe landing either on land, sea, lake or Splunge arn&#39;t we? ;)

om@umr.edu
2004-Nov-12, 04:12 AM
Richard0802,

I apologize. I will shorten my post to answer only the error in Duane&#39;s comment.

You are right, Richard0802, at extremely low temperatures even a "slurry of organic sludge" may become as hard as rocks.

With kind regards,

Oliver
http://www.umr.edu/~om

Duane
2004-Nov-12, 06:18 PM
Did anyone besides me note that Oliver has again pointed to his own work to support his contention? Sadly, typical. (ie: I say this is right. My proof is that I say this is right)


I suspect that the Huygens probes&#39; parachutes will do the same the deeper it descends. After this point, either the chutes will crumble and fall apart, or freeze so solid they behave like solid iron.

I think that that analogy will not work, because the shirt hanging out to dry is saturated with water, and that is what freezes. It&#39;s been known for long enough prior to the building of this probe that the surface temperature is -270, so I would hazard a guess that this was taken into account when they decided on the material and shape of the parachute.

I am a little more optomistic than you--I put the chances at 65% success, 45% failure. Either way, I think we will learn something.

antoniseb
2004-Nov-12, 06:30 PM
Originally posted by Duane@Nov 12 2004, 06:18 PM
Did anyone besides me note that Oliver has again pointed to his own work to support his contention?
Yes, I noticed. I just rolled my eyes and sighed, but didn&#39;t bother to post.

om@umr.edu
2004-Nov-12, 06:49 PM
Duane and Anton,

Please. Let&#39;s not get off-topic again. Ken Windler noted data from the Galileo probe into Jupiter showing that:

Xe-2 associated with the outer part of the solar system is unlike the

Xe-1 associated with the inner part of the solar system.

http://www.umr.edu/~om/abstracts2001/windl...leranalysis.pdf (http://www.umr.edu/~om/abstracts2001/windleranalysis.pdf)

With kind regards,

Oliver
http://www.umr.edu/~om

Duane
2004-Nov-12, 07:07 PM
Sanctimony&#33;


sanc·ti·mo·ny n.
Feigned piety or righteousness; hypocritical devoutness or high-mindedness


Ken Windler noted data from the Galileo probe into Jupiter showing that:

Xe-2 associated with the outer part of the solar system is unlike the

Xe-1 associated with the inner part of the solar system.


Which proves nothing. Furthermore, the association is not strong, and only you have concluded that it supports your theory. How is this part of the Hygens probe landing again Dr Oliver?

damienpaul
2004-Nov-12, 10:35 PM
ummmm Duane...


I am a little more optomistic than you--I put the chances at 65% success, 45% failure. Either way, I think we will learn something.
that equals 110%...now thats truly optimistic&#33;&#33;&#33; :P

Duane
2004-Nov-12, 10:53 PM
Darn mathematicians :blink: