Titan Calling

How a Swedish engineer saved a once-in-a-lifetime mission to Saturn’s mysterious moon

14 min read
Boris Smeds
Photo: Bert Bostelmann

1004titanf1 Unsung Hero: With the help of the engineering model of Huygens (background), Boris Smeds discovered a crippling communications problem. Photo: Bert Bostelmann

Last June, scientists were thrilled when NASA’s Cassini probe successfully began orbiting Saturn after a 3.5-billion-kilometer, seven-year journey across the solar system. The 6-ton spacecraft immediately started returning spectacular pictures of the planet, its rings, and its 30-plus moons. It was just the beginning of Cassini’s four-year tour of Saturn’s neighborhood, and while scientists expect amazing discoveries in the years to come, the most dramatic chapter in the mission’s history will happen this January, when scientists attempt to peek beneath the atmospheric veil that surrounds Saturn’s largest moon, Titan—a chapter that might have ended in disaster, save for one persistent engineer.

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3 min read
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3 min read
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