NASA plans to explore the seas of Titan through a submarine

NASA plans to explore the seas of Titan through a submarine

Researchers are planning to send a submarine on “TITAN” which is Saturn’s largest moon and the only celestial body other than Earth having stable liquid bodies that are known to be made up of Methane and Ethane.

The submarine would be mainly exploring Titan’s largest sea known as the “KRAKEN MARE”, which covers around 400,000 km2

The main mission of the submarine would be gathering data about the chemical composition, tides, and the currents.

This would not be a standalone mission but the submarine will be accompanied by an orbiter for receiving the data from the submarine and then sending the data back to Earth for further research.

The submarine would be nuclear powered similar to “CASSINI–HUYGENS” because Saturn is very far from the Sun and thesunlight is spread out so, a solar-powered mission is not an option.

WHY TITAN?

The main reason behind choosing Titan is that as stated above it is the only heavenly body other than Earth to have stable liquid bodies.

Moreover, Titan has a thick atmosphere which is very promising as it could potentially sustain life according to various astrobiologists.

THE DESIGN

Steven Oleson of NASA’s Glenn Research Center stated that “the concept submarine would need to be at least 20 feet long and weigh nearly 3,300 pounds to accommodate communications equipment. 

If it had an accompanying orbiter, then the smaller piece of equipment would only need to be 6.5 feet long and weigh 1,100 pounds. 

The sub’s instruments would theoretically only be for analyzing the planet’s chemical makeup and include cameras, a weather station, and tools to analyze liquid and other physical samples.

WHEN WILL IT BE LAUNCHED?

Oleson said that similar to Saturn, Titan also has seasons which last 7 Earth years, and the best season to visit Titan would be its northern summers. 

They are targeting 2045 arrival at the Titan and it takes about 7 years to reach Saturn so according to that the mission has to be launched in the 2030s.

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