During the year 2006, NASA’s Cassini was flying past Saturn’s moon, Titan. It had observed that the moon had seas of liquid of liquid ethane and methane on the moon’s -300 F surface. This is another step closer to outer space life. Some of these oily seas though, seemed to be bigger than Lake Superior, according to Cassini’s radar because the visibility was poor due to the thick atmosphere of Titan. Want to know more?
NASA is knowing planning a probe that will go and land on Titan’s so called ‘seas’ and act like a boat to float on the liquid methane and receive information on this moon. The probe to make history is called, the Titan Mare Explorer (TiME). This would be humankind first ever extraterrestrial mission ever!
On May, NASA funded a contract of $3 million dollars for development of the project. If the space agency gives a go ahead sign then TiME will launch on 2016 and float, and float until 2013 when it’s 800 million miles away from Titan’s north pole region where most liquid methane seas and lakes are the biggest. Once TiME reaches the liquid ethane sea then, it will begin to take photos, analyze the weather, how deep the seas are, and analyze samples of the chemical structure of the seas. At the end of the project, then TiME will just wonder off on the sea and keep on floating until it reaches the other side of Saturn’s orbit where it is dark with no sunlight and radio communication will be cut (2035).
Methane clouds always fog up the glum Titan’s sky, and scientists believe that hydrocarbon raindrops are the reason why the sea’s have been replenished and how the landscape had been sculpted. We still believe that there won’t really be any life on the moon, Titan because, water is the main ingredient to life. If there’s no water, we believe there won’t be any real life structure. This is what we believe so far, but we never know if there really is any life with liquid ethane so this is the basic reason why the mission is being executed, to solve all these questions.
After 7 years of travelling through the black hollowness of space, including many bumps with gravity pulls in many planets, TiME will finally make it into the thick, foggy atmosphere of Titan, being protected from friction with it’s heat shield. After getting into the atmosphere for about 100 miles then, the parachute will be deployed. During the 2 hour drop, TiME will be taking photo’s recording data, and using it’s spectrometer to analyze the chemicals of the seas. After the drop into the ethane and methane sea, the capsule will bob up and record all sorts of information of take samples to analyze the chemical structure.
NASA can only fully fund one out of 3 space projects that are coming up: a Mars mission to research how the planet was formed, a comet hopper that will repeatedly land on a comet that is close to Earth, or a capsule that will record data on Saturn’s moon, Titan (this TiME project). Now which one will they choose?