Tech | September 5, 2016 4:00 am

NASA Building a Submarine for Alien Ocean Exploration

NASA’s latest challenge: explore oceans of liquid methane. Saturn’s moon of Titan is quite similar to the planet Earth, boasting a dense atmosphere and clouds—plus it’s the only body in the outer solar system that also has lakes of liquid like we do. However, Titan is much colder, with a temperature of minus 290 Fahrenheit. Yet the presence of methane and other organic matter suggests there was life at some point on the moon; indeed, there may even still be some there. That’s why NASA wants to explore the Kraken Mare, which is nearly 1,000 feet deep and comparable in size to a Great Lake.

Enter the Titan Submarine … or rather, in about two decades or so, as 2038 is when simulations suggest will be the earliest the orbits of Earth, Saturn, and Titan will align in a way to maximize the chances of a successful voyage. Which is good, because NASA needs some time to actually build the Titan Sub, which will be a “semi-autonomous planetary submersible.”

Watch a video below of the concept sub designed for the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Program by NASA’s Glenn Research Center’s COMPASS Team; technologists and scientists from the Applied Physics Lab; and submarine designers from the Applied Research Lab.