TiME - space submarine

    In 2009, the media wrote about NASA and ESA plans for the first space boat - a floating vessel that would investigate the lakes of one of Saturn’s satellites. But in the context of priority, the project lost the mission to Jupiter. After some time, NASA again raised this topic in 2012. After reviewing 28 projects, three reached the final: a probe to Mars as part of the Insight mission, a Comet Hopper lander, and a spaceship called Titan Marine Explorer (TiME). Once again, NASA made a choice not in favor of TiME, preferring the probe to Mars. NASA is currently collecting projects for the Discovery Program and everyone is looking forward to seeing if TiME gets there.

    In 2004, the Cassini spacecraft using a radar and infrared telescope was able to look under the deep orange clouds of Titan, the largest satellite of Saturn. Scientists were amazed that the landscape was very reminiscent of the Earth, there were riverbeds, rains, clouds, lakes and seas - for the first time something similar to our landscape was found outside the Earth. However, unlike Earth, the sea and the lake on Titan are mainly composed of methane and ethane. And still the question remains, is it possible to swim there? Some people think so. Large liquid bodies, like the Punga Sea (the third largest liquid body on Titan), are considered by scientists as an excellent platform for exploring early life forms and an additional incentive to approve the mission of TiME. In the pictures below, Titan and its north pole.

    The best time to explore the seas of the Titan, which are located near its north pole, is the first years of the 2020s - during the late summer in the north of the satellite. At this time, the lakes are in daylight, and there will be the possibility of direct communication with the Earth without the use of special expensive equipment for signal broadcasting. But there is another problem - a plutonium deficiency. Space missions use radioisotope sources of energy, an alternative to which is not available for the mission to Titan. And this is a problem not only for TiME, but for all other missions. As of September 2013, plutonium-238 reserves in the United States were 16 kilograms and all of them have already been scheduled for upcoming missions. Thus, if the TiME mission is not approved by NASA, the next launch can only be realized by the year 2040,

    But TiME is not the only opportunity to study Titanium, do not forget about the satellites. After many years of study, scientists discovered a undulating surface on one of the seas of the Titan. “If this discovery is true, then these are the first waves discovered at sea outside the Earth,” scientists from the University of Idaho wrote in their press release in March at the Lunar and Planetary Science conference. In the image below, the heart-shaped Punga Sea in the left image, and the blue waves in the right image indicate possible waves.

    Judging by the images, scientists suggest that the waves are 2 cm high and they are formed by the wind speed of 2.73 km / h. Researchers cannot say for sure since there are doubts that these may not be waves, but silty rocks on the surface of the sea. The situation should become clearer until 2017, when the winds, if any, should intensify in the northern region of Titan, and then the waves should become even larger.
    Images taken in 2007 when Cassini dropped a Huygens probe onto a satellite (13Mb)

    Additional materials on the topic:
    1. Sea Pungi

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