Washington: NASA has recently developed a concept to send a submarine to explore Saturn’s moon Titan, which has mysterious vast lakes of liquid methane and ethane.
At 2015’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Symposium, a Titan submarine concept was showcased by NASA Glenn’s COMPASS Team and researchers from Applied Research Lab, Discovery News reported.
Envisaged as a possible mission to Titan’s largest sea, Kracken Mare, the autonomous submersible would be designed to make a 90 day, 2,000 kilometer (1,250 mile) voyage exploring the depths of this vast and very alien marine environment.
As it would spend long periods under the methane sea’s surface, it would have to be powered by a radioisotope generator; a source that converts the heat produced by radioactive pellets into electricity, much like missions that are currently exploring space, like Cassini and Mars rover Curiosity.
Communicating with Earth would not be possible when the vehicle would be submerged, so it would need to make regular ascents to the surface to transmit science data.
Titan is the only moon in the solar system to have a significant atmosphere and this atmosphere is known to possess its own methane cycle, like Earth’s water cycle. Methane exists in a liquid state, raining down on a landscape laced with hydrocarbons, forming rivers, valleys and seas.