NASA New Plans to Send an Autonomous Submarine to Discover Titan's Oceans - Physics-Astronomy.org

NASA New Plans to Send an Autonomous Submarine to Discover Titan's Oceans

NASA is making plans to send a smart marine to Saturn's moon, Titan, so it can autonomously discover the depths of its frigid oceans.
The submarine would search the freezing liquid methane and ethane oceans that cover the moon's outside, beaming back valuable data to Earth, cryogenics engineer Jason Hartwig announced at the NASA Innovative higher Concepts (NIAC) Symposium previous week.
The tech blueprints of the autonomous submarine include a top communications 'fin' on its back that would let it communicate straight with receivers on Earth, covering a space of around 1,429 million kilometres (886 million miles).
The 6-metre-long (20-feet-long) sub would also use an attractive ballast system, taking on liquid when it wants to sink, and expel it when it wants to rise. There won't be any tanks of fuel on Titan, so using as little energy as likely is going to be crucial.
As you might expect, the submarine is going to be packed with all kinds of meteorological tools, counting a range of sensors and radar and sonar tools, plus cameras to build up the top picture possible of what it's actually like on Titan.
The moon might be very cold, and covered with liquid methane and clouds of cyanide, but it's of importance to scientists because of the way it resemble an early Earth.
Other than Earth, it's the only recognized body in the Solar System with stable, liquid seas on its surface. Its atmosphere works in a related way to our own, with comparable hydrological cycles to those on Earth that name how water moves between fresh and salt, or between liquid and ice.
One of the key benefits for using a submarine to discover Titan is the craft's versatility. On the surface it can measure waves, atmosphere, and wind, and once it dives, it can check the composition of the liquid it's moving through, and take samples from the sea bed.
"If you can obtain below the surface of the sea, and get all the way down to the bottom in certain areas, and really touch the silt that's at the bottom, and sample it and study what that's made of, it'll tell you so a great deal about the environment that you're in," said one of the researchers, Michael Paul from Penn State University.
The sub plan is on hold for now, until we see what else NASA's Cassini spacecraft can find out about Titan and its seas. The project is predictable to be reassessed by March 2017.
This will involve analysing any new information the team has conventional from Cassini about the depths, pressures, and temperature of Titan's oceans, and adapting their submarine design accordingly.
Once the design is finalized, it'll still be some time before the submarine is nosing its way through Titan's oceans - a 1st mission has been tentatively scheduled for 2038.
NASA New Plans to Send an Autonomous Submarine to Discover Titan's Oceans

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