The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)’s Glenn Research Center has released a sneak peek of a robotic submersible concept which could be used to explore the vast lakes of liquid methane and ethane on Saturn’s moon Titan.
The concept was developed by NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts program as a robotic submersible vehicle designed for planetary exploration. Its officially named the Titan Submarine Phase I Conceptual Design.
Researchers believe Titan to be similar to Earth, only a lot colder and in an embryonic stage. It’s the only moon in the solar system which has a significant atmosphere. The moon’s atmosphere is known to possess its own methane cycle, similar to Earth’s water cycle. The methane, which exists in a liquid state, rains down on the moon in a fashion similar to water on our planet in which it forms rivers, valleys and seas.
Titan’s landscape is laced with hydrocarbons. Most of its seas average a few meters deep, however, others have depths of over 200 meters.
As of present, scientists have managed to study several seas extensively by performing flybys with NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, but scientists require a way to dive into the depths of these seas in order to reveal their secrets and that’s a job for the Titan submarine, as Cassini’s radar’s penetration is limited to 200 meters or 660 feet.
The autonomous submersible would be designed to take a 90-day voyage across 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles). It would incorporate a radioisotope generator as a power source. The generator converts heat produced by radioactive pellets into electricity; a technology which is similar to that which is employed by other missions currently exploring space such as the aforementioned Cassini spacecraft and the Mars rover Curiosity.
Researchers intend on exploring Kraken Mare, the largest known body of liquid on Saturn’s surface. It was discovered by the Cassini probe back in 2007.
In other space news here on Immortal News, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 crashed after a successful launch in an attempt to land on a robotic platform floating off the coast of Florida.
Titan is Saturn’s largest moon. It’s the only natural satellite known to have a dense atmosphere.
What do you think of NASA’s robot submarine?