- Plutonium-powered craft weighs just 120kg
- Moon bigger than ours – and bigger than Mercury
- $715m project would take 3D photos of surface
January 4, 2012
The Aviatr plane looks like the drones that fly over Afghanistan – but the $715 million vehicle is designed to fly over Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, a body that has fascinated scientists because of its thick, cloudy atmosphere.
The Aviatr probe is built to take 3D photos of the surface, to help scientists build up a picture of the planet’s geology. At the end of its mission, the 120kg aircraft would dive down to the surface and attempt a landing on Titan’s dunes.
Scientists believe that Titan is uniquely suited for heavier-than-air craft – the moon’s gravity is relatively low, but its atmosphere is thick, which would mean 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.
This article was posted: Wednesday, January 4, 2012 at 7:05 am