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.

Keep reading... Show less

Stay ahead of the latest trends in technology. Become an IEEE member.

This article is for IEEE members only. Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

Startup Makes It Easier to Detect Fires With IoT and Flir Cameras

The system employs predictive analytics and AI

3 min read
A tablet computer shows blueprints overlaid with thermal imagery.

MoviTHERM’s iEFD system’s online dashboard shows a diagram of the interconnected sensors, instruments, Flir cameras, and other devices that are monitoring a facility.

MoviTHERM

Fires at recycling sorting facilities, ignited by combustible materials in the waste stream, can cause millions of dollars in damage, injuring workers and first responders and contaminating the air.

Detecting the blazes early is key to preventing them from getting out of control.

Keep Reading ↓ Show less

Mayo Clinic Researchers Pump Up Wearable ECG Functions With AI

Single-lead ECG can detect ventricular dysfunction

3 min read
A closeup image of a person about to touch an apple watch screen showing a health app with their finger.
Istockphoto

Mayo Clinic researchers have developed an artificial-intelligence algorithm that can detect weak heart-pump functioning from a single-lead electrocardiogram (ECG) on the Apple Watch. Early results indicate that the ECG is as accurate as a medically ordered treadmill stress test but could be performed anywhere, the researchers say.

The single-lead AI algorithm was adapted from an existing algorithm that works by analyzing ventricular pumping data from a 12-lead ECG already in clinical use under an Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Keep Reading ↓ Show less