NASA and ESA Prioritize Outer Planet Missions (Comment: this page has nice movies of the Europa-Ganymede and the Titan missions---both will eventually be launched. Europa first, then Titan---so there is more time to study the Titan concepts)
Saturn's moon Titan has been revealed by the Cassini-Huygens mission as an exotic world, unlike any other, but with some uncanny similarities to the Earth. The Cassini orbiter radar penetrating the ubiquitous Titan haze layer, has revealed vast expanses of equatorial sand dunes and high latitude seas believed to contain liquid methane and ethane. The Huygens probe plunging below the haze in one place on Titan obtained viewed of a complex valley drainage network believed to be carved by flash floods of liquid hydrocarbons.
Because of its extraordinary interest, NASA has recently announced its intention of going back to Titan in collaboration with the European and Japanese Space agencies. One mode of exploration that appears uniquely suited to Titan is a lighter-than-air vehicle that could operate for years in Titan’s cold dense atmosphere and descend repeatedly to the surface for close up observations and sampling. A hot air (Montgolfiere) balloon utilizing the waste heat of the vehicle’s radioisotopic electric power might provide this capabilitiy. A Caltech/JPL demonstration project for the summer of 2009 is currently being formulated. This summer, a set of SURF projects on various scientific, technology and mission design topics are being offered to lay the essential groundwork for the summer 2009 project.
Last Year's 2008 SURF Projects
The table below lists the individual projects that were part of the 2008 Titan SURF project. Each project contains a short description of the research opportunities, along with a summary of the prerequisites needed to pursue the project. Contact information for mentors and co-mentors is also provided.
|Titan Mission Design
||C. Peterson, J. Marsden
|Computational Fluid and Thermal Analysis of a Titan Montgolfiere
||T. Colonius, J. Hall
|Titan Wind Analysis using LCS
||J. Marsden, C. Newman
|Localization, Navigation and Control
||J. Burdick, A. Elfes
|Simulation Environments and Visualization
||A. Elfes, M. Powell
||A. Elfes, J. Marsden
|Path Prediction for an Earth-based Demonstration Balloon Flight
||M. Richardson, J. Marsden, C. Newman
||S. Pelligrino, J. Hall, M. Ortiz
||B. McKeon, J. Dabiri
|Adaptive Modeling and Learning of Wind Fields
||A. Elfes, C. Newman