Lost it in space

December 10, 2004

John Zarnecki, professor of space science at the Open University, is to spend yet another Christmas worrying about an interplanetary probe. Last year it was Beagle 2 , now it's Huygens , which is due to separate from its mothership Cassini on December 25 and will head for a rendezvous with Saturn's mysterious moon Titan three weeks later. But Professor Zarnecki, principal investigator with Huygens ' surface science package, said he'd been devastated when Huygens was approved in 1988 at the expense of a proposal he'd been working on for 12 months. So perhaps there was an element of revenge when Professor Zarnecki explained that his dream scenario was to watch a giant wave bearing down as Huygens floats helpless on some notional sea.

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