What if?

I looked at Today’s APOD, in which the Huygens probe photos were used by an artist to create an “artist’s concept” of Huygens sitting on Titan.

Consider… the parachute is still attached.

What if the parachute had come down on top of the probe? More than a billion kilometers from home, with 90 minutes of battery power, the probe would have gotten pictures of the inside of the chute.

I’m not accusing anybody of poor planning, or anything like that. I’m just imagining that happening, and giggling quietly. There would have been no artist’s rendition, but cartoonists all over the blogosphere would have drawn funny pictures. (Well… at least one of us would have.)


14 thoughts on “What if?”

  1. One would hope that Nasa has worked out a way to prevent this… but then again one would hope they knew the differenc between metric and imperial, and we know how that turned out.

      1. The loss of one of the mars probes (The Martian Explorer?) a few years ago was traced back to a confusion over whether a given number was in metric or imperial measurments.

      2. 1) It wasn’t NASA. It was contractors. But yeah, NASA should have checked their numbers better.
        2) Measurements that were supposed to converted from Imperial to Metric were not. As a result, the computer code that would have been called to fire thrusters to control the probe’s descent was called after the probe had augured its way into the martian surface.

        I think this was back in 2000. I forget.


    1. Or even ESA, whose baby Huygens was. NASA were responsible for getting it to Titan, but I suspect that the landing systems were European.

      And happily, I don’t think ESA has ever been tempted by the atrocity that is imperial units.

      1. They have their own problems. like using the term kilograms force despite metric having a perfectly serviceable force unit that wasn’t shoehorned in and can’t be accidentally confused with the mass unit.

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