London, Jan 4: Scientists have designed a 715 million-dollar space vehicle dubbed ‘Aviatr’ to fly over Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, which would help in building picture of the planet’s geology.
Aviatr probe is an unmanned UAV similar to the probes used over Afghanistan – and the 120kg aircraft would be uniquely well suited to life soaring through the thick atmosphere of Titan, the Daily Mail reported.
Scientists consider Titan to be distinctively suited for heavier-than-air craft – the moon’s gravity is relatively low, but its atmosphere is thick, which implies that a heavier than air craft such as Aviatr could stay airborne for longer.
The moon is thickly shrouded in clouds, and scientists are intrigued about what lies beneath.
Unlike a balloon – the rival method proposed for missions to Titan – Aviatr would allow scientists to accurately control its altitude, and build up a library of 3D images of the surface and Titan’s weather.
The spacecraft, designed by Jason Barnes, a scientist at a University of Idaho along with a team of 30, will be equipped with horizon imaging camera and powered by a generator, which creates heat from plutonium-238. (ANI)