AVIATR- Airplane Mission for Titan
It has been said that the atmosphere on Titan is so dense that a person could strap a pair of wings on their back and soar through its skies. via universetoday by Lillian Ortiz
image above: An artist’s conception of AVIATR, an airplane mission to the second largest moon in our solar system: Titan. Credit: Mike Malaska 2011
It’s a pretty fascinating thought. And Titan – Saturn’s largest moon – is a pretty fascinating place. After all, it’s the only other body in our solar system (besides Earth, of course) that has that type of atmosphere and evidence of liquid on its surface.
“As far as its scientific interest, Titan is the most interesting target in the Solar System,” Dr. Jason W. Barnes of the University of Idaho told Universe Today.
That’s why Barnes and a team of 30 scientists and engineers created an unmanned mission concept to explore Titan called AVIATR (Aerial Vehicle for In-situ and Airborne Titan Reconnaissance). The plan, which primarily consists of a 120 kg plane soaring through the natural satellite’s atmosphere, was published online late last month.
The goal of the plane concept – which according to Barnes can serve as a standalone mission or as part of a larger Titan-focused exploration program – is to study the moon’s geography (its mountains, dunes, lakes and seas), as well as its atmosphere (the wind, haze, clouds and rain. Did you know that Titan is the only other place is our solar system where it rains?)
AVIATR is composed of three vehicles: one for space travel, one for entry and descent into Titan, and a plane to fly through the atmosphere. AVIATR, estimated to cost $715 million, would not prevent other missions from occurring on Titan, Barnes said. Instead, it would supplement the science being done by other projects.
“The science that AVIATR could do complements the science that can be accomplished from both orbiting and landed platforms,” the article stated.
Unfortunately, it seems like the plane concept won’t be happening anytime soon.
read more: universetoday
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