Nasa reveals plans for space plane that will fly to Saturn Moon and land on ‘space lakes’

NASA has revealed details on a space plane that could one day fly over Saturn’s moon Titan.

Dubbed TitanAir, the craft would soar through the skies of the icy world before landing on its lakes.

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Nasa has announced plans for a space plane dubbed TitanAir

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TitanAir will explore Saturn’s icy moon, Titan

The concept of TitanAir was selected earlier this month by Nasa as part of experimental space technology for study.

Now, researchers will be able to develop ideas and more using Nasa grant funding.

Quinn Morley of Planet Enterprises in Gig Harbor, Washington, was the first to envision the concept.

Its goal would be to investigate the chemistry of Saturn’s largest moon: Titan.

This icy world features a surface that is completely obscured by a hazy, golden atmosphere.

Quinn Morley explains: “This Titan Flyer concept aims to ‘drink’ in methane condensation and organic material through a permeable section of the leading edge wing skin.

“Capillary features on the inside of the wing will collect this ingested material and combine it into a continuous fluid stream, which can then be routed to science instruments inside the flyer.

“To enable intermittent low altitude flight, the flyer will land on the seas of Titan like a flying boat – except ‘boat’ implies water, and on Titan, the lakes are made of methane. We’re calling it a ‘flying laker.’”


Nasa said that flying on Titan would be “relatively easy” due to its low gravity and thick atmosphere.

The flying instrument would seamlessly transition between soaring through Titan’s atmosphere and sailing its lakes, “much like a seaplane on Earth,” the space agency added.

The NIAC Program

The Nasa Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program fosters innovation by funding early-stage studies to evaluate technologies that could support future missions.

The latest round of awards will provide $175,000 grants to 14 visionaries from nine states in America.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said: “NASA dares to make the impossible possible. That’s only achievable because of the innovators, thinkers, and doers who are helping us imagine and prepare for the future of space exploration.

“The NIAC program helps give these forward-thinking scientists and engineers the tools and support they need to spur technology that will enable future Nasa missions.”

Described as a “low-cost flying boat mission,” the TitanAir project would focus on atmospheric and lacustrine, or lake, science.

Nasa says it could target specific important questions that remain untargeted by any currently funded or planned Titan mission.

Titan is the second-largest moon in our solar system. Only Jupiter’s moon Ganymede is larger, by just two percent.

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