NASA plans to send a submarine in the seas of Saturnian Moon Titan with the purpose of analyzing what lies beneath those methane rich “waters”.
Just like Earth’s water cycle, the giant Saturnian moon named Titan has a methane cycle which enables the compound to move between the atmosphere and the seas of hydrocarbons. This phenomenon is what causes Titans methane and ethane oceans and its dense atmosphere, unique in the Solar System.
NASA is targeting its exploration toward the Kraken Mare, the biggest among Titan’s seas, measuring a diameter of 625 miles. They are planning to use a vehicle in order to explore the depths of Kraken Mare for a period of 90 days.
The Huygens probe had already been sent to this Saturnian moon in 2005. In addition to this, a lot of information regarding the methane cycle has been gathered thanks to the Cassini orbiter that revolves around Saturn. Data acquired via Cassini’s satellite shows that in addition to the Kraken Mare, there are also other liquid accumulations, some very shallow (no deeper than a foot) while others are as deep as 600 feet.
This is also the maximum limit the submersible’s radar will be able to measure. Once the submarine starts acquiring data, it will need to regularly return to the surface in order to send information to Earth, as current technology is limited and does not permit data transfer from underneath the sea.
While at surface, the craft will also be able with the help of a camera installed on an external mount to explore the state of the sea and shoreline landscape. It will also be able to record meteorological conditions.
The vehicle cannot function on solar power while submerged so scientists came up with a solution: electricity will be generated with the help of radioactive pellets.
Another difficult situation will be the moon’s meteorological and climatic conditions that the vehicle has to face while on the surface and under sea level. The team will have to make sure the vehicle can withstand the temperature of Titan’s oceans which can be as low as minus 298 degrees Fahrenheit.
The project still has a long way as its launch is planned for 2040.
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