Huygens, have you been a good little probe this year?

From the Space News Blog comes a story on Huygens’ final journey to Titan:

One year after Mars Express’ arrival at Mars, the mighty rules of celestial mechanics have again set Christmas as the date for a major ESA event in deep space.

At 1.25 billion km from Earth, after a 7-year journey through the Solar system, ESA’s Huygens probe is about to separate from the Cassini orbiter to enter a ballistic trajectory toward Titan, the largest and most mysterious moon of Saturn, in order to dive into its atmosphere on 14 January. This will be the first man-made object to explore in-situ this unique environment, whose chemistry is assumed to be very similar to that of the early Earth just before life began, 3.8 billion years ago.

My office-mate has been working on some of the last minute dynamics analysis for the Cassini-Huygens separation. Sometimes, the shear distance Cassini has traveled sets me back – fully an order of magnitude longer in travel time than the Mars rovers, nearly seven years to arrival. And she’s working pretty darn well, too!

So if you’re not complete distracted on December 25, you might want to keep an ear open for word from JPL on Cassini‘s status.