NASA unveils TitanAir space plane designed to take us to the moons of Saturn

NASA has agreed to fund further research into an experimental 'space plane' that could be used to find alien life.

Space boffs will give grant funding to TitanAir, a concept designed to investigate the chemistry of Saturn's largest moon Titan.

Titan is a mysterious icy world almost completely obscured by a golden atmosphere. Astronomers believe it is covered in huge lakes of methane, and it's these lakes that the Titan Flyer would glide across.

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Planet Enterprises' Quinn Morley was the first to come up with the concept, and explained that the plane would 'drink' condensation through its wing.

Quinn said: "This Tital 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'."

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NASA believes that flying on Titan, which is the solar system's second-largest moon, will be 'relatively easy' due to its low gravity.

The US space agency also says that the craft would be able to fly through Titan's sky and sail its lakes "much like a seaplane on Earth".

The concept is being funded as part of NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) programme which is designed to fund early-stage research into future space technologies.

NASA says that the TitanAir project could be used for a range of research queries which haven't been targeted by any currently planned Titan missions.


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