Author Topic: Missions To Titan  (Read 3882 times)

Offline Star One

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Missions To Titan
« on: 07/07/2016 07:28 PM »
Is there much likelihood of a Titan mission any time soon?

A paper like the example below show why scientific interest in Titan should be high.

Hydrogen cyanide on Titan key to possible prebiotic conditions

http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/2016/07/hydrogen-cyanide-titan-key-possible-prebiotic-conditions

Offline as58

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Re: Missions To Titan
« Reply #1 on: 07/07/2016 08:07 PM »
Is there much likelihood of a Titan mission any time soon?

The same answer as for Enceladus: Ocean Worlds (Titan and/or Enceladus) were added as candidates for the fourth New Frontiers mission. Tentative schedule for the fourth New Frontiers is:

Release of final AO...................................... January 2017 (target)
Preproposal conference................................ ~3 weeks after final AO release
Proposals due ............................................... ~90 days after AO release
Selection for competitive Phase A studies... November 2017 (target)
Concept study reports due............................ October 2018 (target)
Down-selection ............................................ May 2019 (target)
KDP B .......................................................... August 2019 (target)
Launch readiness date .................................. 2024

Online JasonAW3

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Re: Missions To Titan
« Reply #2 on: 07/07/2016 08:34 PM »
I would love to see a rover on both Titan and Enceladus.

     Too bad we can't do a three or four part probe to Titan.

One; a ground Rover,

Two: a submersible/surface probe for the "lakes",

Three; an airborne aircraft or warm "air" balloon probe,

Fourth; a lander that could not only do deep geological and chemical research, but also act as a potential communications relay for the other probes. 

    This would allow them to use lower powered transmitters to the main lander to preserve power, or to direct transmit, should something happen to the "Home base" lander.
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Offline Star One

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Re: Missions To Titan
« Reply #3 on: 07/07/2016 10:07 PM »
I would love to see a rover on both Titan and Enceladus.

     Too bad we can't do a three or four part probe to Titan.

One; a ground Rover,

Two: a submersible/surface probe for the "lakes",

Three; an airborne aircraft or warm "air" balloon probe,

Fourth; a lander that could not only do deep geological and chemical research, but also act as a potential communications relay for the other probes. 

    This would allow them to use lower powered transmitters to the main lander to preserve power, or to direct transmit, should something happen to the "Home base" lander.
I am sure I saw a proposed ESA combined mission to both moons posted in the Enceladus thread.

Offline Alpha_Centauri

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Re: Missions To Titan
« Reply #4 on: 07/08/2016 12:06 AM »
Yes, a Saturn orbiter called E2T, but it would only sample the top of the Titanean atmosphere and of course it's going to be in a very tough competition.  An Ocean Worlds New Frontiers is probably more likely to happen.
« Last Edit: 07/08/2016 01:05 AM by Alpha_Centauri »

Offline Star One

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Re: Missions To Titan
« Reply #5 on: 07/08/2016 05:57 AM »
Yes, a Saturn orbiter called E2T, but it would only sample the top of the Titanean atmosphere and of course it's going to be in a very tough competition.  An Ocean Worlds New Frontiers is probably more likely to happen.

You could argue that these moons are more pressing scientifically.

Offline Mongo62

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Re: Missions To Titan
« Reply #6 on: 07/10/2016 06:32 PM »
I would love to see a rover on both Titan and Enceladus.

     Too bad we can't do a three or four part probe to Titan.

One; a ground Rover,

Two: a submersible/surface probe for the "lakes",

Three; an airborne aircraft or warm "air" balloon probe,

Fourth; a lander that could not only do deep geological and chemical research, but also act as a potential communications relay for the other probes. 

    This would allow them to use lower powered transmitters to the main lander to preserve power, or to direct transmit, should something happen to the "Home base" lander.

That would be great, but it's probably too ambitious for anything other than a Flagship mission.

My own choice would be a two-part mission like the old Viking missions -- an orbiter equipped with a tomographic imaging radar, similar to the Magellan mission to Venus, and a lander of some sort. The orbiter would double as a communications relay to Earth. The lander would include an airborne probe of some kind for distance travel, and a floating surface probe to be dropped off when the airborne portion is passing over a sea.

Offline Star One

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Re: Missions To Titan
« Reply #7 on: 07/10/2016 07:20 PM »
I would love to see a rover on both Titan and Enceladus.

     Too bad we can't do a three or four part probe to Titan.

One; a ground Rover,

Two: a submersible/surface probe for the "lakes",

Three; an airborne aircraft or warm "air" balloon probe,

Fourth; a lander that could not only do deep geological and chemical research, but also act as a potential communications relay for the other probes. 

    This would allow them to use lower powered transmitters to the main lander to preserve power, or to direct transmit, should something happen to the "Home base" lander.

That would be great, but it's probably too ambitious for anything other than a Flagship mission.

My own choice would be a two-part mission like the old Viking missions -- an orbiter equipped with a tomographic imaging radar, similar to the Magellan mission to Venus, and a lander of some sort. The orbiter would double as a communications relay to Earth. The lander would include an airborne probe of some kind for distance travel, and a floating surface probe to be dropped off when the airborne portion is passing over a sea.

Would having the probe being able to move around on the seas add greatly to the costs?

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Missions To Titan
« Reply #8 on: 07/10/2016 10:12 PM »
Would having the probe being able to move around on the seas add greatly to the costs?

Yes. Unless you're talking about a sail. But any kind of active propulsion is completely new and unproven and therefore expensive.

I'm also not sure what propulsion actually gives you. It's going to move from wind anyway. If you theoretically want to have a propulsion system that could enable it to hover over a feature on the bottom, that's actually a pretty complex system because it would have to work autonomously. How would it know that it was staying in one place and not moving? On Earth, we do that with ships via GPS systems. But if you spotted something interesting on the bottom using sonar, by the time you got the data back to Earth and you decided it was interesting enough to focus on, the boat would have moved from wind or currents. There would be no way to send a command telling it to "go back to that interesting thing that you saw yesterday." How would it navigate back there? Seems like there just would not be much of a point and there would be a lot of cost.

« Last Edit: 07/11/2016 12:21 AM by Blackstar »

Offline Star One

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Re: Missions To Titan
« Reply #9 on: 07/11/2016 06:23 AM »
Would having the probe being able to move around on the seas add greatly to the costs?

Yes. Unless you're talking about a sail. But any kind of active propulsion is completely new and unproven and therefore expensive.

I'm also not sure what propulsion actually gives you. It's going to move from wind anyway. If you theoretically want to have a propulsion system that could enable it to hover over a feature on the bottom, that's actually a pretty complex system because it would have to work autonomously. How would it know that it was staying in one place and not moving? On Earth, we do that with ships via GPS systems. But if you spotted something interesting on the bottom using sonar, by the time you got the data back to Earth and you decided it was interesting enough to focus on, the boat would have moved from wind or currents. There would be no way to send a command telling it to "go back to that interesting thing that you saw yesterday." How would it navigate back there? Seems like there just would not be much of a point and there would be a lot of cost.

Thanks for that information. So something simple like a sail could be included without too much extra cost then.

Online redliox

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Re: Missions To Titan
« Reply #10 on: 07/11/2016 08:13 AM »
IMO, I'd give Europa priority followed by a return to Triton.  When you think about it the Cassini mission gave Saturn's lot a treasure trove of data the rest of the Outer Planets lack, more so Uranus and Neptune; poor Galileo was crippled so a surprising lot of the Galilean moon maps are still based on Voyager's data.  Give the other a turn before insisting on Titan again.
« Last Edit: 07/11/2016 08:13 AM by redliox »
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Offline Blackstar

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Re: Missions To Titan
« Reply #11 on: 07/11/2016 12:21 PM »

Thanks for that information. So something simple like a sail could be included without too much extra cost then.

Yeah, but why would you even want one? The boat itself is going to get moved by wind and currents. If it has a camera mast (and it will), that will act like a sail. I don't see why you'd want or need anything more, but a way to do it would be to add a bit of surface area to the camera mast.

Offline Alpha_Centauri

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Re: Missions To Titan
« Reply #12 on: 07/11/2016 12:51 PM »
Here is a paper by the lead of the E2T proposal which briefly discusses a simple version of a Titan boat than recent designs;

http://www.sciences.univ-nantes.fr/lpgnantes/lpg/fichiers/tobie-g/PUBLICATION/Mitri15.pdf

Realistically I think something like this is what a Titan lander will eventually look like.
« Last Edit: 07/11/2016 02:28 PM by Alpha_Centauri »

Offline as58

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Re: Missions To Titan
« Reply #13 on: 07/11/2016 01:28 PM »
These mission proposals are very exciting, but it seems to me that keeping Saturn (moon) missions inside the ESA M-class cost limit would be very difficult. I think they'd need a significant contribution from an international partner.

Offline Alpha_Centauri

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Re: Missions To Titan
« Reply #14 on: 07/11/2016 01:46 PM »
The ESA proposal is for a JET redux, which given the larger total budget for M missions compared to Discovery may not be impossible, and judging by the researchers they are banking on significant US involvement in the instrumentation. Perhaps there could be a barter for a US launch? That frees up money from the ESA contribution to the budget to put into the spacecraft structure.

I was just pointing out the ideas that have been (pun intended) floated around re: a boat since it was being discussed. I'm sceptical too a boat would actually be added on top of that particular mission.
« Last Edit: 07/11/2016 02:21 PM by Alpha_Centauri »

Online JasonAW3

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Re: Missions To Titan
« Reply #15 on: 07/11/2016 02:23 PM »
I would love to see a rover on both Titan and Enceladus.

     Too bad we can't do a three or four part probe to Titan.

One; a ground Rover,

Two: a submersible/surface probe for the "lakes",

Three; an airborne aircraft or warm "air" balloon probe,

Fourth; a lander that could not only do deep geological and chemical research, but also act as a potential communications relay for the other probes. 

    This would allow them to use lower powered transmitters to the main lander to preserve power, or to direct transmit, should something happen to the "Home base" lander.

That would be great, but it's probably too ambitious for anything other than a Flagship mission.

My own choice would be a two-part mission like the old Viking missions -- an orbiter equipped with a tomographic imaging radar, similar to the Magellan mission to Venus, and a lander of some sort. The orbiter would double as a communications relay to Earth. The lander would include an airborne probe of some kind for distance travel, and a floating surface probe to be dropped off when the airborne portion is passing over a sea.

Would having the probe being able to move around on the seas add greatly to the costs?

Depends on HOW you propel it.  Sails MIGHT be an option, but we'd have to get a better idea of wind velocity and general weather info before that would be much more than conceptual.

     On the other hand, as cold as titan is, use of either directionalized release of waste heat from a floating probe could be used to both steer and propel said craft without adding any real complexity to the probe.

     Superconducting MHD drives would also be an option, as we do have superconducting materials that would be well suited to Titanian conditions.

     Basic mechanical propulsion, including propellers, water jets and even swimming systems would stand a high risk of mechanical failure or even freezing up, as well as contaminating of the environment, likely invalidating much of the chemical data that could be gathered.
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Offline JH

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Re: Missions To Titan
« Reply #16 on: 07/11/2016 06:41 PM »
I doubt that an MHD drive is viable on Titan's lakes, as liquid methane has an electrical conductivity on the order of attoSiemens or ~10^-12 that of even highly purified water (~5 μS).

--typo
« Last Edit: 07/11/2016 07:01 PM by JH »

Offline Star One

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Re: Missions To Titan
« Reply #17 on: 03/12/2017 06:30 PM »

Offline TakeOff

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Re: Missions To Titan
« Reply #18 on: 03/13/2017 06:17 PM »
One mission might collect samples of Titan's upper atmosphere and of Enceladus' geysers and of ring dust, and bring it home to Earth. The transfer vehicle could park in high (or highly eccentric) Saturn orbit, drop off a daughter vehicle that "clips" the moons and rings to collect flyby samples. When it returns to the mothership, all mass is discarded except for the samples and the return to Earth power.
« Last Edit: 03/13/2017 06:18 PM by TakeOff »

Offline Blackstar

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Re: Missions To Titan
« Reply #19 on: 03/13/2017 06:28 PM »
One mission might collect samples of Titan's upper atmosphere and of Enceladus' geysers and of ring dust, and bring it home to Earth. The transfer vehicle could park in high (or highly eccentric) Saturn orbit, drop off a daughter vehicle that "clips" the moons and rings to collect flyby samples. When it returns to the mothership, all mass is discarded except for the samples and the return to Earth power.


Insanely expensive.

One problem with any sample return from that distance is that it takes at least as long to return as it does to get there. So you end up with a mission that might take 18 years to complete, and you only get your science payoff at the end. So if the spacecraft dies in year 17, the whole thing has been a waste. And designing and testing a spacecraft to last 18 years is expensive.

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