Airbus Defence and Space

Fifth anniversary of Huygens' Titan touchdown

Today marks the anniversary of a project in which Airbus Defence and Space played a key role.

The joint European–US project to Saturn's largest moon, comprising the US-built Cassini orbiter and its Huygens lander, developed for the European Space Agency (ESA) by a European consortium, was by all accounts a great success. Airbus Defence and Space was heavily involved in production of the Huygens lander which succesfully landed on the surface of Titan five years ago today.
At 13:34 CET on 14 January 2005, Huygens became the most distant manmade object to land on another world. During its descent and landing, it beamed back to the Cassini spacecraft around four hours’ worth of invaluable scientific data, revealing Titan to be a world with both striking similarities to and alien differences from Earth.

Huygens arrived at Titan following a seven-year voyage attached to the NASA/ESA/ASI Cassini spacecraft. It then spent 2 hours and 28 minutes descending by parachute through Titan’s atmosphere, blasted by winds of up to 430 km/h. Once it touched down, Huygens spent another 70 minutes transmitting more data before the Cassini spacecraft moved out of range. The Huygens signal then continued to be received for another 2 hours by a network of radio telescopes on Earth.
Airbus Defence and Space in Germany was responsible for the integration of the entire Hyugens probe, as well as provision of the internal thermal control subsystem. Airbus Defence and Space in France designed and manufactured the fore and aft thermal protection system for Huygens’ heat shields and carried out the aerodynamic specification, trajectory calculations and those for the probe's parachute braking system. Airbus Defence and Space in Spain delivered the probe’s internal structure.

Space ExplorationCassini-Huygens