The Cassini / Huygens Space Mission to Explore the Saturnian System
The Cassini/Huygens spacecraft arrived in July 2004 at the planet Saturn and landed on 14. January 2005 the atmospheric descent probe Huygens successfully on the surface of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. This paper reviews the related technical challenges and the solutions with emphasis on control engineering aspects. Addressed is the design of a trajectory to bring a spacecraft of almost 6 t by gravity assisted fly-bys to Saturn, despite this is beyond the direct capacity of available launchers. Remote failure diagnosis is highlighted at the example of the telecommunication link problem detected at the distance of Jupiter. In the course of the 10 years long development process different approaches to the descent control system had been discussed for the Huygens probe to enable a safe landing on Titan, satisfying given schedule constraints. These approaches will be compared and discussed in relation to the finally realized solution.