Submarine to study the Titan, Saturn's moon the NASA is developing - VIDEO PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 12 February 2015 13:28

Crazy, but incredibly interesting NASA plans no end. Only recently, we told you about wanting the US space agency to send to Mars drone helicopter, as the first detailed space mission that NASA is going to spend about 2040. It is about sending a submarine to Titan, the largest Moon of Saturn.

At the recent International Symposium of advanced concepts and technologies NASA agency specialists have shown the conceptual design of the first stage of the project for the study of submarine Titan. Autonomous submarine will investigate liquid hydrocarbons at the poles of the satellite.

Titanium itself is one of the most interesting Moons in our solar system. He is more than the planet Mercury, and this is the only companion, has a dense atmosphere. Pressure at the surface of the satellite and a half times higher than the earth, and the gravity is only 0,14 G. satellite nevertheless very cold. Temperatures here often drop to -179 ° C.

As part of space missions "Voyager", "Cassini" and landing probe "Huygens" researchers found that at the poles of Titan, there are three large liquid sea. Titanium, besides Earth, space is the only body in our solar system, for which proved the presence of liquid on its surface. However, this liquid - water is not. This whole sea of liquid methane and ethane.

The largest of the seas of Titan is called Kraken Mare. It was found spacecraft "Cassini" in 2007. Located hydrocarbon sea in the northern hemisphere of the satellite. The area is about 400 000 square kilometers. The water depth may be up to 160 meters, although observations suggest that it may comprise a recess, so the final depth may even be less than 300 meters. Scientists that sea are primarily interested in their tides (thanks to Saturn), a complex coastline, as well as the presence of evaporites (sedimentary rock).

Submarine on Titan will work on the basis of thermoelectric installation

Unfortunately, to say that the same is below the liquid surface of the seas of Titan, it is impossible as long as there do not look. That's why NASA is going to send a satellite submarine and find out all the details. A conceptual framework for the sub Titan describes the use of a compact semi-autonomous submarine. Similar studies are often used for marine and ocean depths here on Earth. Underwater vessel weighing approximately 1 ton will work on the basis of a conventional electric motor, modified for use in the 90-day mission to Titan. During this time, the submarine will have to cover about 2,000 kilometers Sea Kraken.

Because of its shape to deliver the submarine to Titanium require the use of a winged spacecraft capable of withstanding hypervelocity re-entry of the satellite, the maximum reduction above sea Kraken and reset the submarine in a special protective capsule. After checking all the systems of the submarine will start your research. Furthermore, it should be noted that due to the great distance from the earth submarine will operate at a very high level of autonomy.

The submarine will explore the Kraken Mare special sonar

The heart of the submarine will be a 1-kilowatt thermoelectric Stirling. He will not only provide the necessary energy for submarine work, but also is used in the electronics will protect against freezing. Titan is so cold that when working in a cryogenic environment almost superfluous heat generator will cause the formation of condensation and boiling. This feature will need to be taken into account in the design of the submarine. However, sparing operation and low speed (NASA decided that the submarine would absorb about 1 meter per second - 3.6 km / h) will have to reduce the load.

For economy and simplicity submarine project does not imply the use of a separate subsidiary orbital spacecraft. To use it you need to build additional reactor, as well as engines. All this will significantly increase the cost and complexity of the mission. But as with the Titan still have to transmit to Earth a huge amount of new data, NASA engineers propose to use a large air on the submarine vertical rudder, which, among other things, will still be huge and antenna. During his daily 16-hour operation on the surface of the submarine will transmit messages to Earth and simultaneously produce research surrounding terrain camera mounted on its mast. And without that amazing picture of neighborhoods will be accompanied by a fantastic view of Saturn on the horizon.

As on Earth, the submarine on Titan will use ballast tanks, but the design of the structure and the scheme works is an open question, because as methane and ethane - this is not the water, and the Titan bears no resemblance to the Earth and its conditions. Density of the liquid here varies significantly quantitative ratio of methane and ethane in its composition. And this difference is much more difficult, if compared with the ratio of the difference between fresh and salt water on Earth. Therefore, the basic parameters of the ballast tanks of the same size like the scientists only remains to be seen.

Titanium has low gravity, but if Kraken Mare deeply as much point to it earlier analyzes, as well as taking into account the composition and temperature of the atmosphere of the satellite, all these factors together can create a problem for deep-sea research of the Moon. In this case, the nitrogen ballast tanks may condense into liquid, which in turn will lead to a sudden loss of buoyancy of the underwater vessel. One solution to this problem may be to use a special tank of hydraulic pistons that will help to fill and to empty ballast tanks instead of relying on air pressure, as is the case in conventional submarines.

While at NASA did not disclose more detailed parts of the priorities of the submarine, which they want to send to Titan. But it seems that it will be a full-fledged research in various fields. Most likely, the mission will include a study of the structure and composition of the Sea Kraken: both in terms of its liquid composition, and in terms of residual rocks above and below the sea surface. In addition, as the Titan has a huge stock of organic elements, the task of the submarine will search for traces of prebiotic compounds that could provide new information about how on earth could appear life.

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