ASSEMBLY OF THE Huygens interplanetary probe has begun at the Aerospatiale plant in Cannes, in southern France, following a critical design review by the European Space Agency and NASA. The probe will study Titan, the largest of Saturn's satellites.

The Huygens probe represents the first time that Europe has been involved in a planetary programme involving atmospheric re-entry. The arrival of the Huygens on Titan will be the most distant soft landing ever attempted by man.

The probe is due for launch in October 1997 aboard a Titan IV Centaur, alongside the Cassini, a NASA probe. After a voyage of seven years, the Huygens will reach the vicinity of Saturn, and will be separated from the Cassini. It will enter the atmosphere of Titan 22 days later.

Source: Flight International