NASA Submarine For Titan

Interesting plan from NASA to send a small submarine into an ocean on Saturn's moon, Titan.


(Titan Submarine: Exploring the Depths of Kraken Mare)

Jason Hartwig, a NASA cryogenics engineer has disclosed the idea while he was giving a presentation at NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Symposium in Raleigh, reports inverse.com.

"There are really two big reasons why we want to go to Titan. Number one: to determine if hydrocarbon based life is possible on Titan," he said.

Number two: as the only moon in our solar system with clouds and an atmosphere, Titan is very similar to Earth — apart from the extreme cold and oceans of liquid methane. But hidden in the methane sea may be clues to how life evolved and potentially some weird extraterrestrial microbes.

The submarine will be about 6 meters long, equipped with a small plutonium engine in the back called a Stirling radioisotope generator (SRG). The heat from the engine keeps the electronics in the front of the sub warm. That's vital because the hydrocarbon seas are a frigid minus 180 degrees celsius.

Science fiction fans have been ready for this for a decade; sf author Michael Swanwick described the Mitsubish robot turbot robofish:

Black liquid flashed past the turbot’s infrared eyes. Straight away from the shore it swam, seeing nothing but flecks of paraffin, ice, and other suspended particulates as they loomed up before it and were swept away in the violence of its wake. A hundred meters out, it bounced a pulse of radar off the sea floor, then dove, seeking the depths...

Via MarineLink.

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