NASA want’s to explore Saturn’s moon Titan using multi-copters. Titan appears to have a very interesting atmosphere filled with nitrogen, methane, ethane and nitrogen-rich organic smog. A climate very similar to earth, with the wind, rain, and rivers.
Titan is the only celestial object in our solar system where scientists are certain that there is liquid on its surface. Images sent home from the Cassini probe revealed rivers, lakes, and seas. Although the moon is believed to have water in its frozen form. These rivers and lakes instead probably consist of liquid methane and ethane, instead of water.
The interesting landscape of Titan is however also what makes the moon difficult to explore. A lander cannot traverse a landscape filled with rivers and such. A balloon cannot make landings to examine interesting areas, and then lift off again.
A helicopter has been proposed as a solution to these problems but has implied great risks. Now in a new proposal, multi-copters have instead been suggested by NASA scientists. A multi-copter, such as a quadcopter, mitigates some of the risks with its more stable flight using its multiple rotors.
The idea is to send a balloon with one or several multi-copters contain within. The multi-copter can then take off, investigate the surface, take pictures and samples. Then return to the balloon “mothership” for analysis and to recharge its batteries.
The balloon would drop into Titan’s atmosphere without landing and would thereby act as a base station for the drones within.
Titan Aerial Daughtercraft