I came across this article at Discover’s blog 80 Beats, and I thought it was really interesting.
Imagine sitting back with a glass of wine on your boat looking up at the lovely night sky presumably with the best view of Saturn you have ever seen.
Well, unfortunately this space proposal does not include any human passengers, but their is potential for NASA to send a space boat to Saturn’s moon, Titan. Just think, the first space boat ever to be constructed. Considering all other robots build to land on other surfaces such as the Moon and Mars have been designed for solid surfaces, I wonder how difficult it will be to design something that floats that can also survive the one billion kilometer journey and the atmospheric entry. Yes, Titan has an atmosphere. Actually, it is the only moon with a known atmosphere, and it’s atmosphere is more dense than earth’s.
Lovingly dubbed the Titan Mare Explorer, or TiME for short, this interesting contraption, if given the chance, will be able to calculate the temperature of one of the methane lakes while also mapping the bottom structure. How cool would that be to compare the bottom structure of a methane lake with the lakes here on earth. The lakes on Titan are believed to be around the size of the Great Lakes which are around 200 miles in width and length. Well, that will certainly give more than enough voyage opportunities for this space boat. Methane, as we know it, is the primary ingredient in natural gas.
However, before this little boat can steam along on another world entirely different from our own, it must compete with two other NASA proposals. So far scientists have received $3 million for their idea, and if they beat out the other two ideas, a seismograph for Mars and a comet hopping probe, they will have a total of $425 million to put towards science, technology, and construction.
Personally, a comet hopping probe sounds pretty awesome, but I really want to see a boat that floats on an ocean in another world within my lifetime. So, my vote goes to the boat.