NASA wants to send its concept submarine to explore Kraken Mare, one of the methane seas located on Titan, the moon that circles Saturn. Kraken Mare is the largest known body of liquid on Titan, and it consists mostly of liquid methane.
The concept submarine is a single-ton robot, nuclear-powered submarine equipped with a seafloor camera and sampling system. The video below was posted by NASA earlier this month.
“The vehicle would use conventional propulsors to yaw around, using a sun sensor to determine the initial azimuth to Earth and begin communication using a terrestrial radio as a more precise reference,” the agency explained in a conference presentation.
It won’t be an easy task to get the sub to Saturn’s moon. It won’t fit into the landers that have been utilized for exploring planets and moons in past missions, but the sub could fit into a space plane such as Boeing’s X-37, which was recently used for a classified Air Force mission. The plane could land on Kraken Mare or possibly drop the sub using a parachute.
NASA hopes to use the sub to explore the chemistry of Titan’s seafloor and sea composition, as well as study its tides, weather, shoreline, islands and search for any type of life. The concept of the sub is still in its very early stages, but the team expects that it may be up and running by 2047.
Kraken Mare was discovered in 2007 by the Cassini probe. It was named after the Kraken, a legendary sea monster that originated in the 13th century and supposedly lives off the coast of Greenland or Norway.