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NASA Develops Outer Space Submarine to Explore Saturn

CC0 / / Saturn
Saturn - Sputnik International
Over the past ten years, NASA has been studying Saturn and its many moons, including the largest one, Titan, with the help of its Cassini spacecraft. By 2040, however, the US space agency may use other, more sophisticated equipment for the purpose.

NASA specialists and Washington State University researchers are developing an outer space submarine, which they hope to send to Titan, the largest of Saturn's moons and the second largest moon in the solar system.

The Titan Submarine is scheduled to be sent to explore Titan's freezing hydrocarbon seas within the next twenty years, and its design is still being updated, according to a Washington State University press release published on the website phys.org.

CC0 / Kevin Gill / Cassini, Titan, & SaturnCassini, Titan, & Saturn
Cassini, Titan, & Saturn - Sputnik International
Cassini, Titan, & Saturn

"The submarine that the agency is designing will have to operate autonomously. It will need to study atmospheric and ocean conditions, move around sea beds, and hover at or below the surface," the press release said.

This will certainly be a hard nut to crack, given that the temperature drops to —300 Fahrenheit (-184 Celsius) in Titan's oceans where the concentration of ethane and methane can vary dramatically.

Dragonfly is a dual-quadcopter lander that would take advantage of the environment on Titan to fly to multiple locations, some hundreds of miles apart, to sample materials and determine surface composition to investigate Titan's organic chemistry and habitability, monitor atmospheric and surface conditions, image landforms to investigate geological processes, and perform seismic studies - Sputnik International
NASA's Flying Toy Wish-List: A 'Dragonfly' Drone for Saturn's Biggest Moon Titan
That's why researchers re-created a Titan ocean in a laboratory to specifically understand how the heat emanated from the submarine would affect its hydrodynamic characteristics.

They also developed a special video camera and an optical device called a borescope, capable of withstanding low temperatures and high pressures.

The past ten years have seen NASA using unmanned Cassini spacecraft to obtain data for exploring Saturn's numerous moons. 

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