Nasa unveils plans for a spaceplane that will fly to Saturn’s moon and land on “space lakes.”

NASA has revealed details of a spaceplane that could one day fly over Saturn’s moon Titan.

Dubbed TitanAir, the plane would soar through the skies of the icy world before landing on its lakes.

NASA has announced plans for a spaceplane called TitanAir

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NASA has announced plans for a spaceplane called TitanAirPhoto credit: SWNS
TitanAir will explore Saturn's icy moon Titan

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TitanAir will explore Saturn’s icy moon TitanPhoto credit: SWNS

TitanAir’s concept was selected for study by Nasa earlier this month as part of experimental space technology.

Now, with NASA grants, researchers can come up with ideas and more.

Quinn Morley of Planet Enterprises in Gig Harbor, Washington was the first to envision the concept.

His goal would be to study the chemistry of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.

This icy world has a surface completely obscured by a hazy, golden atmosphere.

Quinn Morley explains, “This Titan Flyer concept aims to ‘drink’ methane condensation and organic matter through a permeable section of wing skin on the leading edge.

“Capillary features on the inside of the wing collect this ingested material and combine it into a continuous stream of liquid that can then be channeled to scientific instruments inside the flyer.

“To allow for intermittent low-altitude flight, the aviator lands like a flying boat on the seas of Titan—except ‘boat’ implies water, and on Titan the seas are made of methane. We call it a ‘flying Laker’. ‘”

Nasa said that flying on Titan is “relatively easy” due to its low gravity and dense atmosphere.

The flying instrument would transition seamlessly between soaring through Titan’s atmosphere and soaring on its lakes, “much like a seaplane does on Earth,” the space agency added.

The NIAC program

The Nasa Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program encourages innovation by funding early-stage studies to evaluate technologies that could support future missions.

The final round of awards will award $175,000 in grants to 14 visionaries from nine states.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said: “NASA dares to make the impossible possible. This is only possible because the innovators, thinkers and doers help us envision and prepare for the future of space exploration.

“The NIAC program helps give these forward-thinking scientists and engineers the tools and support they need to advance technologies that will enable future Nasa missions.”

Described as a “low-cost flying boat mission,” the TitanAir project would focus on atmospheric and sea or sea science.

Nasa says it may target certain important questions not addressed by any currently funded or planned Titan mission.

Titan is the second largest moon in our solar system. Only Jupiter’s moon Ganymede is larger, just two percent.

https://www.thesun.ie/tech/news-tech/10111328/nasa-space-plane-fly-saturn-moon-space-lakes/ Nasa unveils plans for a spaceplane that will fly to Saturn’s moon and land on “space lakes.”

Fry Electronics Team

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