Tag: Titan

NASA Funds 7 NIAC Phase II Proposals


WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected seven technology proposals for continued study under Phase II of the agency’s Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program. The selections are based on the potential to transform future aerospace missions, introduce new capabilities or significantly improve current approaches to building and operating aerospace systems.

The selected proposals address a range of visionary concepts, including metallic lithium combustion for long-term robotics operations, submarines that explore the oceans of icy moons of the outer planets, and a swarm of tiny satellites that map gravity fields and characterize the properties of small moons and asteroids.

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Tethers Unlimited Selected for 3 SBIR Phase I Awards


Tethers_Unlimited_LogoNASA has selected Tethers Unlimited, Inc., (TUI) for three Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I awards for materials that can be recycled on the International Space Station (ISS), an anchoring system that would allow rovers to explore rough terrain on other worlds, and a gimbal that would assist balloons in exploring the atmospheres of Venus and Titan.

Now that there is a 3D printer on the station, TUI is interested in developing cargo ship packing materials that can be easily recycled into feed stock for the printer.

“TUI proposes to develop Customizable Recyclable International Space Station Packaging (CRISSP), which is a set of materials, formats, and design methodologies optimized both for (1) the economic and mechanical requirements for ISS supplies packaging and (2) being efficiently recyclable onboard the ISS into high performance 3D printer feedstock,” the proposal states. “A range of packaging formats will be evaluated for use, including common bubble-wrap, foams, folded and thermoformed shells, and parametric cellular additively-manufactured boxes that can be readily optimized for specific payloads and launch environments.”

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MARSDROP Micro-probes Could Explore Alien World


The steerable MARSDROP parawing glider is capable of up to 10 minutes of guided flight covering a lateral distance of approximately 10 kilometers (~6 miles). Foreground image is a MER scene. Inset is from a high-altitude weather balloon drop test that demonstrated parawing deployment within speeds and atmospheric conditions expected during Mars entry. The image captures the parawing and capsule descending to the Nevada desert floor. (Credit: Planetary Science Institute)

TUCSON, Ariz. (PSI PR) – Microprobes that piggyback on Mars-bound spacecraft could investigate areas currently unavailable to surface instruments, a Planetary Science Institute researcher said.

The payload could be steered to scientifically desired targets during the gliding phase, enabling a wide variety of enticing research locations including canyons, fresh impact crater sites, volcanic region and glaciers, PSI’s Rebecca M.E. Williams said during a poster presentation today at the 46th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston.

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Titan Submarine Among Projects Funded by NIAC

Fathom this: a submarine to examine undersea features on Titan, a moon of Saturn. New approaches to space exploration are being supported by NIAC. (Credit: Steven Oleson/NASA GRC)

Fathom this: a submarine to examine undersea features on Titan, a moon of Saturn. New approaches to space exploration are being supported by NIAC. (Credit: Steven Oleson/NASA GRC)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Want to grab a front row seat to the future? If so, look no further than the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program to gain that opportunity.

NIAC is home base and incubator of cutting-edge, innovative and technically credible advanced concepts…ideas that could one day change the possible in aeronautics and space.

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Awesome NASA Video of Proposed Titan Submarine


Video Caption: What would a submarine to explore the liquid methane seas of Saturn’s Moon Titan look like? This video shows one submarine concept that would explore both the shoreline and the depths of this strange world that has methane rain, rivers and seas! The design was developed for the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program, by NASA Glenn’s COMPASS Team, and technologists and scientists from the Applied Physics Lab and submarine designers from the Applied Research Lab.

NASA Selects 12 NIAC Phase I Projects for Funding

Titan submarine

Titan submarine

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 12 proposals for study under Phase I of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program, which aims to turn science fiction into fact through pioneering technology development.

The selected proposals cover a wide range of imaginative concepts, including:

  • a submarine to explore the methane lakes of Titan;
  • using neutrinos to perform measurements for the icy moons of the outer planets; and,
  • a concept to safely capture a tumbling asteroid, space debris, and other applications.

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NASA Awards Near Space Corporation Funding to Advance Titan Balloon Research


Titan Balloon A Flagship class Titan Explorer mission is conceived with montgolfiere (hot air balloon) to circumnavigate the surface of Titan at jetliner altitudes, but allow occasional descents to the surface. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NSC PR — TILLAMOOK, OR  — Near Space Corporation (NSC), a leading innovator of terrestrial and planetary exploration balloon technology, has received a Phase Two NASA Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) award to fund work that will help enable future airborne exploration of Saturn’s moon Titan.  NSC’s winning proposal was among 85 selected from a total pool of 428 submissions.

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Space Review Looks at Space Tourism Soot, Titan’s Smog and Clean Solar Power


Photo by Mark Greenberg

This week in The Space Review

Climate change and suborbital spaceflight
The same day that commercial spaceflight supporters were celebrating the development of Spaceport America, a new study concluded that suborbital flights that facility will host could alter the planet’s climate. Jeff Foust examines the latest research and some of the issues associated with the study.

The mysteries of Titan

Thirty years ago this week Voyager 1 made the first close flyby of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon and one of the most intriguing worlds in the solar system. Andrew LePage recounts the research into Titan and the planning that led up to that encounter.

Space solar power’s Indian connection
As the United States and India seek closer ties, should space-based solar power be on the agenda? Jeff Foust reports on developments in that field, including a new joint initiative supported by a former Indian president.

Video: This Week in Space


Russians take a spacewalk, Elon Musk meets the Colbert Nation, touring Titan’s Lake District, Mars News, ZombieSat attacks, and KSC turtle rescue.

Titan Looks Like the Most Uninhabitable Areas of Utah – Still Want to Go?


This artistic interpretation of the Sikun Labyrinthus area on Saturn's moon Titan is based on radar and imaging data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft and the descent imaging and spectral radiometer on the European Space Agency's Huygens probe. The relative elevations are speculative and organized around the assumption that fluids are flowing downhill. Image credit: NASA/JPL/ESA/SSI and M. Malaska/B. Jonsson


Planetary scientists have been puzzling for years over the honeycomb patterns and flat valleys with squiggly edges evident in radar images of Saturn’s moon Titan. Now, working with a “volunteer researcher” who has put his own spin on data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, they have found some recognizable analogies to a type of spectacular terrain on Earth known as karst topography. A poster session today, Thursday, March 4, at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, Texas, displays their work.

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NASA, ESA Plan Ambitious Missions to Jupiter and Saturn


Bold New Missions to Jupiter and Saturn Planned

NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are pushing ahead with proposals to send ambitious missions to explore Jupiter, Saturn and the many moons that circle both planets, the two space agencies announced Wednesday.

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Titan Volcanoes Spewing Super-Chilled Liquid?



Data collected during several recent flybys of Titan by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft have put another arrow in the quiver of scientists who think the Saturnian moon contains active cryovolcanoes spewing a super-chilled liquid into its atmosphere. The information was released during a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, Calif.

“Cryovolcanoes are some of the most intriguing features in the solar system,” said Rosaly Lopes, a Cassini radar team investigation scientist from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “To put them in perspective – if Mount Vesuvius had been a cryovolcano, its lava would have frozen the residents of Pompeii.”

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Researcher Proposes Hot-Air Balloon for Titan


Titan Triple Threat
Astrobiology Magazine

“Athena Coustenis, an astrophysicist and planetologist with the Paris Observatory, is helping draft a plan to send a hot air balloon to Titan, as well as an orbiting spacecraft and a surface probe. Called TSSM – the Titan and Saturn System Mission – this three-tiered approach to exploration could shed more light on the still-mysterious moon.”

“’Titan is the best place to go with a balloon because of the atmosphere,’ says Coustenis. Although the atmosphere of Titan is filled with a smoggy orange hydrocarbon haze, it is primarily composed of nitrogen – just like Earth’s. In fact, Astrobiologists think Titan’s atmosphere may be quite similar to how the Earth’s was billions of years ago, before life on our planet generated oxygen.”

Forecast for Titan: Cloudy With a 90 Percent Chance of T-Storms


University of Granada Press Release

Physicists of the University of Granada and the University of Valencia (Spain) have developed a proceeding to analyse specific data sent by the Huygens probe from Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, proving “in an unequivocal way” that there is natural electric activity in its atmosphere.

The scientific community thinks that there is a higher probability that organic molecules precursors to life could form in those planets or satellites which have an atmosphere with electric storms.

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Mars’ Clays, Titan’s Tholins, and Europa’s Ocean Depths


Astrobiology Magazine has some interesting articles about possible life elsewhere in the Solar System….

Mawrth Vallis Water

“Layers of clay have been discovered in the martian highlands using the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The data indicate that liquid water was once widespread on early Mars.”

The Stuff of Life on Titan

“Could tholins formed in Titan’s atmosphere react with liquid water temporarily exposed by meteor impacts or ice volcanoes to produce potentially probiotic complex organic molecules – before the water freezes? Until this year, no one knew.

“Now, laboratory research by Catherine Neish, a graduate student working on her doctorate in planetary science at the University of Arizona, shows in the journal Astrobiology that, over a period of days, compounds similar to tholins can be hydrolyzed (i.e., react with water) at near-freezing temperatures.”

Cracking the Question of Alien Life

“New research is providing clues about the potential for life on Europa. By studying Europa’s surface, scientists hope to determine the best places to search for life and whether or not the moon is geologically active.”