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TALISE aquatic rover may explore a lake on Titan


September 27, 2012

TALISE is a proposed aquatic probe intended to sail across a lake on Saturn's largest moon, Titan

TALISE is a proposed aquatic probe intended to sail across a lake on Saturn's largest moon, Titan

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Titan is Saturn’s largest moon, and it’s said to be one of the most Earth-like celestial bodies in the Solar System. It has a thick atmosphere, and is covered with a network of seas, lakes and rivers – albeit ones made up of liquid hydrocarbons instead of water. Now, a team of scientists are proposing sending a boat-like probe to Titan, that would travel across its largest lake.

The probe, which is still in the concept stage, is known as TALISE – that stands for Titan Lake In-situ Sampling Propelled Explorer, although it’s also an Iroquois word for “beautiful water.” The plan calls for it to land in the middle of Ligeia Mare, which is near the moon’s north pole. It would then set out on a six-month to one-year mission, taking scientific measurements and obtaining samples as it makes its way to the closest shore.

TALISE would weigh about 100 kilograms (220.5 lbs), and would be equipped with an assortment of scientific instruments including a magnetometer, a panoramic camera, an acoustic sounder and a Light Detection And Ranging (LiDAR) system.

The wheel, paddle wheel and screw drive propulsion concepts for TALISE

It would move across the surface of the liquid hydrocarbons using either smooth wheels (really?), paddle wheels, or screw drives – all three systems are currently being considered. Earlier ideas that were ultimately rejected included tank tracks, above- and below-surface propellers, and a hovercraft design.

The development team, which consists of scientists from Spanish engineering firm SENER and the Centro de Astrobiología in Madrid, presented their project today at the European Planetary Science Congress, also in Madrid. They now plan on conducting a feasibility study and creating a preliminary mission architecture, so they’re ready whenever a future space mission starts seeking proposals.

Wolfgang Fink, an engineer with the University of Arizona, has already built a functioning prototype aquatic rover, also intended to traverse the lakes of Titan.

Source: Europlanet

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

At least they aren't trying to build a propeller shaft seal that would survive the trip. They should use sails and paddle wheels and could charge the batteries by using the paddle wheels as water wheels while moving under sail. However if they use the hull as the heat-sink for a thermonuclear battery it should work well.


or a CAAT tread

Alan Belardinelli

Those propulsion methods are just dumb. Ducted propeller pods are the way to go. just lower into the water..ooopps liquid methane from the deck. just wires to the motors, no thru hulls. Or just build them into the body, say in tunnels thru the hull. simple. What if the lakes have slushy "ice" a meter thick covering them? You will need props, under the surface imo. Also the NASA mission has been canceled btw.

Brian Mcc

@Brian I think you are confused. Water is the only liquid that forms floating ice when frozen, so that wouldn't be a problem The screw drive configuration would be the best in my opinion, given that the liquid might be dense, like mud, which would be a problem for paddles or props. Also it would extend the battery life as power needs would be lower.

Mario Bogantes

re; Brian Mcc

Your propellers depend on the liquid being thin and free flowing where as paddle wheels and screw drives when properly designed can operate on free flowing liquids, solids, and anything in between while I would use 3 or 4 paddle wheels for the capability check this out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBjlSJf4274

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