NASA, the space probe Cassini has recently discovered what is thought to be the largest body of liquid on Saturn’s Titan moon — and now, the space agency wants to go to the pool.
In 2008, the 400,000 square kilometres of the ocean has been named Kraken Mare after a legendary sea monster. Shortly after, NASA scientists began to dream of ways to explore it.
The agency of the idea, as ambitious as it is, is to send an autonomous submarine.
Titan is the only place in our solar system, where we found the surface of the liquid and, as the thinking goes, where there’s water, there’s probably life.
However, it should be a very resilient form of life as the rivers and lakes on Titan, the surface of carry a dangerous mixture of methane and ethane.
The project of sub-marine being considered by NASA would be to conduct scientific research under the surface of Titan, the north of the ocean, providing unprecedented knowledge of an extraterrestrial sea and expanding NASA’s existing capabilities in planetary exploration to include water-based activities, the space agency said.
Concepts to explore extraterrestrial oceans have been proposed in the past, but they have generally focused on the more simple ideas, such as sending down suspended probes.
“As such no one has yet imagined what this business would look like, how it would work, or if it could be built,” the mission of the NASA web site said.
However, the space agency has developed a conceptual model of the mission design for the Titan submarine, and plans to continue the noble mission in the next 20 years.
It is 886 million miles from Titan, so it would need a very serious spaceship to get to the submarine. But if it happens, the University of Washington has been helping NASA simulate the condition of such a vehicle would meet them at the arrival.
This month the WSU research team announced that they had built a test chamber to house a liquid mixture to very cold temperatures to simulate the in’-184C Kraken of the sea.
One thing that researchers are looking at the bubbles. A submarine powered by a heat producing from the machine in the cold Titan liquid will cause nitrogen bubbles to form and too many bubbles, it would be difficult to manoeuvre the vessel.
The group has also studied the freezing temperatures for the methane and ethane lakes and has determined that, due to a low amount of nitrogen in the liquid, the lakes freeze to a lower temperature than expected.
“This is a big deal’, said the researcher, Ian Richardson. “This means that you don’t have to worry about icebergs.”
If the mission goes ahead, it represents a new frontier of space exploration.
“By addressing the challenges of submersible autonomous exploration in a cold outer solar system environment, Titan Sub serves as a pathfinder for even more exotic future exploration of the sub-surface water of the oceans (moon of Jupiter) Europa,” NASA said.
watch this space.
This story originally appeared in the news.com.the au.