June 14, 2014 – When Huygens made its soft landing on the surface of Titan little did we know that in future humans would devise a successor to go beyond the moon’s surface and explore its methane lakes. In one of the 12 ideas in NASA’s annual Innovative Advanced Concepts Program (NIAC) it chose to grant $100,000 of seed capital to a group planning to build a robotic submarine to explore Kraken Mare, a lake on Titan. If in nine months the group comes up with a viable design then NASA may, upon request, dole out a further $500,000.
Kraken Mare stretches more than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) across Titan’s surface. At its deepest the lake bottom is 300 meters (close to 1,000 feet) below the surface. The group would conceive a design for a robotic submersible to map the liquid methane domain, study its currents, chemical composition, waves and other phenomenon.
Currently the group is calling their concept, the Titan Sub. If successful similar submarines could be designed to explore the suspected water oceans under Europa and Enceladus and the asteroid Ceres.