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NASA may send quadcopter to Titan


Posted on Friday, 20 June, 2014 | Comment icon 6 comments

Titan is one of the most fascinating places in the solar system. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
The space agency may use a drone to help explore the terrain of Saturn's enigmatic moon.
Two days ago NASA's Cassini probe once again performed a flyby of Titan as part of its ongoing mission to learn as much as possible about Saturn and its moons. In this particular case scientists are hoping to determine how the temperature varies by altitude in Titan's atmosphere, in particular in its polar regions.

Looking ahead however there is only so much that Cassini can find out from space. To properly explore the surface of this surprisingly Earth-like world there are plans in motion to design, build and launch a drone to Titan that will be able to fly around in its atmosphere and take photographs.

Originally outlined by NASA scientist Larry Matthies, the plan would entail having a 'mothership' lander or balloon that the drone could dock at in order to recharge.

"For a lander mission, it enables detailed studies of a large area around the lander, providing context for the micro-images and samples; with precision landing near a lake, it potentially enables sampling solid and liquid material from one lander," said Matthies.

"For a balloon mission, it enables surface investigation and sampling with global reach without requiring a separate lander or that the balloon be brought to the surface, which has potential for major cost savings and risk reduction."

While the concept sounds ideal it may be some time before such a mission can be feasibly launched. NASA believes that the development of both the spacecraft and its associated technologies could take until the 2040s at the earliest.

Source: Russia Today | Comments (6)

Tags: Saturn, Titan


 
Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by CRYSiiSx2 on 20 June, 2014, 13:35
We need a nother "space race" for Titan. 2040s? I'll I'm only 26 but I'll probably be dead by then!
Comment icon #2 Posted by Calibeliever on 20 June, 2014, 14:15
I think this would also be an excellent idea for Mars. Is Mars' atmosphere thick enough to support winged flight?
Comment icon #3 Posted by CuriousRey on 20 June, 2014, 16:57
I really hope this happens in my lifetime, so many interesting concepts have been discussed regarding the exploration of space recently. I feel like i'm going to miss them all, by the time they're implemented I may be long gone.
Comment icon #4 Posted by plaguedmedusa on 21 June, 2014, 2:51
I wish I was born in the future, this fascinates me. I want to be one of the people to go and live on another planet. I think that would be awesome.
Comment icon #5 Posted by FizzPuff on 21 June, 2014, 23:19
Wonder how this will pan out. Titan is HUGE.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Silent Trinity on 24 June, 2014, 8:21
Definitely an ambitious project! If they pull that off it will be an amazing feat of engineering and planning. Good luck to them!


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