December 17, 2004
This picture illustrates the Huygens probe descent profile, beginning with
the initial encounter with the Titan atmosphere and subsequent deceleration.
As the probe slows, a small parachute is released which deploys the main
probe parachute. Once the parachute is fully open the decelerator shield is
jettisoned and the probe drifts toward Titan's surface.
About 40 km above
the surface the main parachute is jettisoned and a smaller drogue chute
carries the probe the remaining distance. Science data are continuously
being transmitted by the probe to the orbiter during the probe's 2.5-hour
descent to the surface, for later relay to Earth. If the probe survives
its impact of about 15 mph, a small science package may transmit up to
30 minutes of post-impact science data to the orbiter. (P-41101)