Friday, February 13, 2015

A NASA team is working on a submarine robot for deployment on Titan. Whoa!


I was just doing a quick surf through my Facebook newsfeed (probably not the best thing to do when I first get to work), when an io9 article popped up with a video recently released from a concept design team at NASA showing a robotic submarine that could be developed for exploring the seas of Titan.  Check it out:

Too cool!  Here's a Discovery News article with some more info about the concept.  Of course, it's really just a concept design and is unlikely to get funded or developed any time soon, but still the idea of transcending into the depths of the hydrocarbon seas on Titan is pretty spectacular.  Pushing our known limits in technology and spacecraft development to explore our solar system and the greater cosmos beyond is what space exploration is all about.  With it's thick, hazy atmosphere and methanological cycle, Titan beckons for us to come and learn more about what's going on there.

NASA image of Titan.  Check out that atmo.  Mmmmmm

Titan is the only world in our solar system outside of our own with lakes and seas on the surface.  Unlike our own Earth, with its hydrological cycle of water changing phases and moving about, Titan has a methanological cycle, where methane, ethane, and other hydrocarbons become the clouds, the rain, and the fluids that fill the lakes:

NASA/JPL/University of Arizona/University of Nantes/Kevin Hand; find it here

We might not see a submarine mission on Titan anytime soon, but I hope we get our asses back there 'fore long.  That beautiful, hazy world is too intriguing to leave it all on its lonesome out there 'round Saturn.

I wrote a post sometime back about one of my favorite songs by The House Band of the Universe. With fellow astrobiologist David Grinspoon at the helm, the band takes the audience on an aural and visual journey into the haze of Titan with their tune, Titan Haze:

Groove on, my friends.  And imagine the coolness of a submarine robot exploring the seas of Titan.

Update February 23rd 2015: 
I just came across a great review of this concept for a Titan submarine in an article for written by Leonard David.  Check it out here.

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