As I mentioned in the post where I introduced our MIDAS SBIR Select Phase 1 project, one of the first steps in that project was to select an exciting and challenging reference mission that we can use as a basis for our performance and sizing analyses. After looking at several options, we’ve selected Titan (the largest of Saturn’s 53 named moons) as the destination for our reference mission.
Sunrise on Titan(credit: Kees Veenenbos)
Some Fun Titan Facts
Titan is the only moon in our solar system with a dense atmosphere, and is the only body in our solar system other than Earth with known stable bodies of surface liquid (albeit of liquid methane). Its nitrogen atmosphere is actually more massive than earth’s in spite of being much smaller. When combined with a surface gravity level of 0.14G (lower gravity than the Moon), Titan is one of the only places in the solar system where human-powered ornithopters would work (h/t xkcd what-if).
Another interesting fact is that a satellite in a 1000km altitude orbit around Titan would deorbit within less than a week. The lowest long-term stable orbit around Titan is nearly 1500km altitude (when the planet’s radius is only 2500km…), ...