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NASA to Send a Submarine to Titan

Although we have known about Titan’s icy surface for a long time, scientists are still wondering about what lies underneath the frozen icy surface of Saturn’s moon. Interestingly, NASA is currently planning a mission to send submarine to the moon to explore its ocean in the coming years.

While the mission sounds interesting, the main issue the scientists are facing is the fact the massive bodies underneath the surface aren’t water at all by liquid hydrocarbons. In a recent paper published in the journal Fluid Phase Equilibria, scientists have noted speculations regarding the compositions of the seas as NASA is trying to find how a submarine can survive in such harsh conditions.

The researchers wrote, “NASA is designing an unmanned submarine to explore the hydrocarbon rich seas of Saturn’s moon Titan. Titan is the only known celestial body in our solar system other than Earth with stable liquid seas on its surface. The thermodynamic properties of Titan’s seas have not been well characterized. This work investigates the solubility of nitrogen in varying liquid methane-ethane compositions and the effects of dissolved nitrogen on the density of the sea.”

In order to find out possible solution, the group of scientists from the Hydrogen Properties for Energy Research (HYPER) Laboratory at Washington State University simulated the harsh conditions a submarine will require to endure to explore the sea. The group of scientists suggested that we can get around the high pressure atmosphere by using a tool called borescope, which uses a long, thick cord or rigid tube. The tool acts as an extended optical relay system which can send actual images back to earth by protecting camera lenses.

However, at the moment, NASA still has $9a long way to go before it can move forward with the planned mission.

Image: NASA

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