Paris, January 12, 2006 – One year ago, on January 14, 2005, the Huygens space probe landed on Titan, representing the most ambitious effort in planetary space exploration ever mounted. Alcatel Alenia Space – the probe’s prime contractor – leading a consortium of 40 companies and laboratories, is proud to be the first European company to have met the challenge of building a spacecraft designed to resist such harsh conditions.
Alcatel Alenia Space is delighted to have contributed to this mission which enables the scientific community to analyze the valuable information provided by this deep space mission. As commented by ESA (European Space Agency), the Cassini-Huygens mission has contributed to numerous scientific discoveries through the 35 000 images of Saturn, its unique rings and its moons.
In addition to being Huygens prime contractor, Alcatel Alenia Space was also strongly involved in Cassini, which is still in orbit around Saturn for its own observation mission. The company provided the large antenna – one of the most complex and extremely advanced antenna in terms of design and technology – enabling the links to and from Earth as well as the multimode radar (synthetic aperture radar, radar altimeter, radiometer) – in collaboration with Jet Propulsion Laboratory – that studies Titan through its thick cloud cover.
These fundamental elements provided initial discoveries of Titan’s surface, showing possible volcanoes, rain clouds, flow features, lakes, craters and vast dune fields, as well as other puzzling terrain. A mixture of complex hydrocarbons, including benzene, has been detected in Titan’s atmosphere.
But the highlight of the mission so far is clearly the lifting of the veil on smog-covered Titan. The Huygens probe showed that Titan’s surface has Earth-like processes and morphology, complete with evidence for methane rain, erosion, stream-like drainage channels and dry lake beds.
As a major scientific achievement in 2005, the Cassini-Huygens mission was celebrated by many institutional and governmental organizations.
About Alcatel Alenia Space
Alcatel Alenia Space, leader in satellite systems and at the forefront of orbit infrastructures, brings together the vast experience and know-how of Alcatel Space and Alenia Spazio to form a new leading force in European space technology. Alcatel Alenia Space represents a worldwide standard for space development that impacts everybody’s future: from navigation to telecommunications, from meteorology to environmental monitoring, from defence to science and observation. Alcatel Alenia Space is an Alcatel (67%) and Finmeccanica (33%) company.
Alcatel provides communications solutions to telecommunication carriers, Internet service providers and enterprises for delivery of voice, data and video applications to their customers or employees. Alcatel brings its leading position in fixed and mobile broadband networks; applications and services, to help its partners and customers build a user-centric broadband world. With sales of EURO 12.3 billion and 56,000 employees in 2004, Alcatel operates in more than 130 countries.