Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sailing on a Sea of Methane on Saturn's Moon Titan

A couple of weeks ago, I was listening to National Public Radio and heard a teaser for a show about "sailing on a sea of methane on Saturn's moon Titan". Unfortunately I missed the broadcast, so I was left with the image in my mind's eye of a stainless steel version of the ship pictured above. Its Mylar sails would be filled with Titanian winds carrying it across this strange sea to lands unknown.

When I got around to listening to the podcast, I found I was mistaken. The scientists that are proposing this ship to NASA envision "a little capsule". It would have a mast with a camera mounted on it, but no sail. It would be powered by a nuclear-fueled engine. Not very romantic, but I'm sure it would snap some really cool pictures.

By the way, the photo above is someone's idea from the early 1900's of what Columbus' Santa Maria looked like. No two "replicas" I have seen look the same, and these guys are experts. So I can't be blamed for imagining a Titanian vessel that is grander than reality.

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