NASA, the US space agency, is planning the adventure of a lifetime — to send a mission to Saturn to explore one of its moons known as Titan to study the Kraken Mare, the biggest sea on what is Saturn’s biggest moon. Titan is twice the size of the Earth’s moon. Kraken Mare is 154,000 square miles in size, so there is a lot of it to see and explore.
Saturn actually has 61 huge moons orbiting around this gas giant planet, but unlike the other 60, Titan has an atmosphere. The majority of the moon is dominated by methane and ethane lakes, which are in a liquid format. The rest of it is made up of rocks and ice, so it’s not a place humans could live due to the cold and the atmosphere, among other things.
It’s unique because it is the only known planetary moon that has not only an atmosphere, but that contains stable bodies of liquid. The atmosphere on Titan is nitrogen, methane, and ethane.
NASA knows all of this due to the studies made by the Cassini spacecraft, as it has been sending back data on the moon since it went into orbit around it in 2004. The craft has made several exciting discoveries during its travel and NASA expects more of the same.
The spacecraft is expected to have enough fuel to last for about two and a half more years, so NASA says Cassini will be able to get other images of not only Titan and Rhea, but also other moons of Saturn such as Dione and Enceladus.
Cassini is capable of taking HD color images and has a wide angle lens on its camera. Some of this data sent back to Earth by Cassini included pictures some of Saturn’s other moons, for example, Rhea. Rhea is 950 miles in diameter, making it a third the size of Titan. It’s Saturn’s 2nd biggest moon. Cassini was able to get the shots from distances of between 32,100 and 51,200 miles.
NASA says that in order to conduct this adventure to Titan and study the sea, it will use a new submarine. The design for this submarine was shown off during NASA’s Institute for Advanced Concepts Symposium in Cocoa Beach, Fla.
Once the sub was sent to Titan to begin its adventure, it would have to traverse waters that get down to minus 290 degrees Farhrenheit. The sub is expected to be able to go a maximum speed of a little over two miles per hour and use an engine that gets its power from a radio thermal Striling generator. The mission would take about three months to study the sea area on Titan.