Every planet is different, and the rugged rovers we have cruising around on Mars obviously won’t work to explore Saturn’s sea-covered moon, Titan.
That job will require something a little more, shall we say, submersible. The folks at NASA have created a new concept video showing off a drone submarine design that could eventually be sent to Titan, tasked with exploring the planet’s dangerous methane seas. Specifically, NASA wants to send this one-ton submarine drone to explore the moon’s Kraken Mare sea. Which is, honestly, one of the most intimidating things you could name a sea.
The design for the sub was created by NASA Glenn's COMPASS Team for the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program. According to CNET, the team included technologists and scientists from the Applied Physics Lab and submarine designers from the Applied Research Lab. The marriage seemed to be a perfect fit, because this thing looks insanely cool.
According to documents explaining the concept, the sub would be nuclear-powered and include a ton of testing equipment on board, as well as a seafloor camera and sonar technology for mapping and exploration. It would feature a slender hull to reduce drag, along with some cylindrical buoyancy tanks mounted high in the design to help with surface stability.
The video is cool and all, but don’t get your hopes up to see this mission get the green light anytime soon. Researchers estimate it could be as far as 2047 until we actually get a sub to Titan, and first we have to figure out a way to deliver the craft (which is too big to fit in a traditional lander). But c’mon, we have to get there eventually.