Posted: Nov 11, 2021 04:01 GMT
Titan’s surface is one of the most Earth-like places in the entire solar system, but its thick atmosphere makes it impenetrable to ground-based and space-based telescopes.
A group of collaborators from the European Space Agency has developed the concept of a space mission aimed at explore lakes and rivers of Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, which, according to experts, could harbor life.
The mission, dubbed Poseidon, involves sending two vehicles to Titan, one orbital ship and a ground module, the latter composed of a amphibious drone and / or a fleet of minidrones, as detailed by the authors in a document published in the Cornell University repository and collected by Forbes.
According to the project, the terrestrial module would explore the polar zones of Titan, where the lakes and seas that are in the satellite are concentrated.
Titan’s surface is one of the most Earth-like places in the entire solar system, although its temperatures are much colder and it has a different chemistry.
Titan is covered in organic compounds protected by a thick atmosphere of nitrogen. On its surface are great seas of liquid natural gas, while beneath its crust an oceanic world stretches. In addition, it has a weather system similar to that of Earth, although it rains methane instead of water.
For these reasons, experts consider it as one of the few places in the solar system with the potential for harbor life.
However, the thickness of its atmosphere makes it impenetrable for terrestrial and space telescopes, leaving the only option for their exploration to send an orbital base and a terrestrial explorer.
The Poseidon mission orbiter would have a wide range of instruments to study the geology and atmosphere of Titan. The authors of the concept point out that the moon’s low gravitation and the density of its atmosphere make it a ideal place to operate drones. An amphibious drone could move from one lake to another or land on the shore, or it could also serve as mothership for a fleet of minidrones, becoming a recharging station and sample collection.
The document proposes that the Poseidon mission be launched before 2039 or complement the Dragonfly mission from NASA, which will reach the surface of Titan around 2034 to study its chemical composition.
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