Putting a submarine on Saturn might sound like something that’s just for the movies, but according to a story on Space.com, it could happen.
The website reported that researchers “have been crafting a concept mission that would send a submarine” there. Titan has lakes and seas of liquid hydrocarbons that we’d then drive our submarine around in to explore what’s down there.
Sounds pretty far out, but it could happen sooner than you think. In fact, according to the story, we could send the sub to Titan sometime in the 2030s. And, if all goes well, the report said it likely wouldn’t be the last space submarine mission with Jupiter’s Europa and Saturn’s Enceladus also possible targets.
Those two would be trickier, according to the report, because their seas are buried under ice. Titan could be the first target because, the report said, because it is the only world beyond Earth “known to host stable bodies of liquid on its surface.” And, it said, some of the lakes on the moon are bigger than our Great Lakes.
Also, because i’s atmosphere includes organic molecules, astrobiologists believe there could be life there and that could include some sort of organisms swimming around in those lakes — although the report notes they’d likely be very different than what we’d see on Earth because the lakes consist of methane or ethane.
If we do send a sub, the report said, it’d be big with an estimated size of 20 feet and a weight of about 3,300 pounds. If it is accompanied by an orbiter, though, the sub weight could be cut to 1,100 pounds, it said. And, such a vessel would, likely, be costly at, perhaps, more than $2 billion.
Timing it, and getting there in the 2030s, might be trickiest of all, according to the report. That’s because, it said, Titan’s seasons last about seven Earth years, and it takes about seven years to get there. But, it does appear to be something we can do, and it says 2045 and 2040 could be good times to land, too, to hit the moon’s biggest lakes during the right season.
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