Updated 03:59 AM EDT, Thu, Oct 28, 2021

NASA Titan Mission 2040: Submarine Set to Dive Largest Methane Ocean in Space [Video]

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NASA intends to send a submarine on one of Saturn's moons, Titan, in the attempt of exploring bodies of liquid methane. The robotic vehicle will be strapped to a spacecraft on its way to the celestial body, the Examiner reported.

According to the outlet, the idea has been presented to the 2015 Innovative Advanced Concepts Symposium. The concept is still in its theoretical stages, and the actual mission is proposed to be carried out in 2040.

Titan appears to be interesting for a number of reasons. As told by Full-Time Whistle, it is the only moon within the solar system that runs its own course of methane cycle in an atmosphere. The outlet indicated that the process involves liquid methane precipitating on landscapes, eventually forming bodies of seas and lakes.

At present, it has been confirmed that Titan's surface housed several regions of liquid material. ExtremeTech reported that data from Voyager, Cassini and Huygens all support this notion, even detailing that three gargantuan polar seas are present out there.

The largest of these seas is known as the Kraken Mare -- the target of NASA's submarine exploration. The hydrocarbon body, as told by ExtremeTech, spans an area of 400,000 sq km (154,000 sq miles). Its depth is said to be160 meters (525 feet).

Interestingly, Titan is believed to resemble a frozen Earth several billion years ago, before life came to existence. The Daily Mail noted that it's one of the "most Earth-like worlds found to date."

The outlet also cited a series of enhanced Cassini radar images, showcasing the terrains and hydrocarbon seas of Titan.

The mission's concept is fairly simple to understand. The submarine will have to go deep into the ocean's surface, collect information and transmit them back to Earth. But of course, this comes with a series of challenges. Note that we're not dealing with just water here.

As told by the Examiner, Kraken Mare is home to "choppy" waves and tides. Not to mention the fact that the submarine in itself will have to be capable of withstanding a bone-shivering (even wrecking, perhaps) temperature of negative 298 degrees -- just about the freezing point of methane.

The source took note of the concept author's remarks, "Measurement of the trace organic components of the sea, which perhaps may exhibit prebiotic chemical evolution, will be an important objective, and a benthic sampler would acquire and analyze sediment from the seabed."

For more information on Titan, head over here.

See the Titan Submarine concept (via NASA Glenn Research Center) below.

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