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Huygens mission science
After entering orbit around Saturn, the Cassini spacecraft will launch the European Huygens probe to make a parachute landing on the surface of the moon Titan. The scientific objectives of Huygens are explained by probe project manager Jean-Pierre Lebreton. (3min 14sec file)
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Saturn's moon Titan
Learn more about Saturn's moon Titan, which is believed to harbor a vast ocean, in this narrated movie. (4min 01sec file)
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Relive Cassini's launch
An Air Force Titan 4B rocket launches NASA's Cassini spacecraft at 4:43 a.m. October 15, 1997 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. (5min 15sec file)
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Deep Impact overview
Rick Grammier, NASA's Deep Impact project manager from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, provides a detailed overview of the spacecraft and its mission. (4min 54sec file)
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Science preview
Deep Impact principal investigator Michael A'Hearn explains how the comet collision will occur and what scientists hope to learn. (7min 11sec file)
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Pre-flight news briefing
The pre-flight news conference is held at NASA Headquarters on December 14 to preview the Deep Impact mission to intercept a comet and blast a projectile into it. (54min 19sec file)
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Mars rover update
Steve Squyres of Cornell University, the rovers' principal investigator, discusses the latest discoveries from Spirit and Opportunity.
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Huygens carrier signal 'solid' for more than two hours
Posted: January 14, 2005

A huge radio telescope at Green Bank, West Virginia, was able to detect and lock onto a faint carrier signal from the Huygens Titan probe for more than two hours this morning, confirming the spacecraft's continued descent through the moon's atmosphere following a high-speed entry around 5:13 a.m. EST (1013 GMT).

A second radio telescope now has picked up the signal as well and Europoean Space Agency project scientist Jean-Pierre Lebreton said engineers were even able to confirm at least one of the probe's six on-board instruments had activated as planned.

Touchdown on Titan's surface was expected around 7:34 a.m.

But detection of a carrier - a feat equivalent to picking up a cell phone call from 751 million miles away - only means the spacecraft was alive and that it survived the rigors of atmospheric entry. Confirmation that actual science data was collected won't be available until 11:15 a.m. EST, after NASA's Cassini spacecraft relays recorded data to Earth.

"We've got a long way to go," said ESA science director David Southwood. "As far as i'm concerned,the baby is out of the womb, but we've yet to count the fingers and toes, so we've still got a long way to go. But it's a major step, a major engineering step. You can probably detect a certain relief on my face. That's real. But there's still a long way to go before the full baby is revealed."

NASA science chief Al Diaz said detection of the carrier signal "means that probably one of the most difficult entry activities ever done has just been accomplished successfully."