Archived Blog Post: January 15, 2005

Titan Calling: "The situation would be like trying to watch a scrambled TV channel—the TV's tuned in fine, but you still can't make out the picture. Alenia Spazio wasn't alone in missing the impact Doppler shift would have on the decoder. All the design reviews of the communications link, including those conducted with NASA participation, also failed to notice the error that would threaten to turn Huygens's moment of glory into an embarrassing failure. Alenia Spazio's insistence on confidentiality may have played a role in this oversight. NASA reviewers were never given the specs of the receiver. As JPL's Mitchell explained to Spectrum, 'Alenia Spazio considered JPL to be a competitor and treated the radio design as proprietary data.'"