NASA simulated an alien ocean on Earth to experience an unusual submarine
Saturn’s moon Titan is in a way very similar to Earth – the same rivers, lakes and oceans. But there is a key difference – instead of simple water, its reservoirs are filled with liquid methane and ethane. In order to develop a submarine capable of moving in such a substance, NASA scientists recreated an extraterrestrial ocean in their laboratory.
If the Martian surface for testing rovers is relatively easy to simulate, then creating something that resembles the sea of Titan remotely is not an easy task. Filling it “water” is a complex mixture of methane and ethane, reaching a temperature of -184 ° C. Therefore, to recreate such conditions, scientists had to use a whole cryogenic laboratory from the University of Washington.
As a result, a system was developed consisting of a tank into which an extremely cold mixture of methane and ethane was injected at a pressure of 413 MPa. To observe the processes inside such an unfriendly environment, researchers used a video camera and a borescope.
To check the behavior of the future submarine in such conditions, the team placed a cylindrical cartridge heater in the tank. Experimental heating of the submarine layout was carried out, as a result of which nitrogen bubbles around the machine began to form. This behavior can prevent a number of processes that cause ordinary submarines to float in the water.
Now scientists have to come up with ways to solve the problems that have arisen, connected with extreme conditions.
Being the only place, except the Earth, where the existence of liquid on the surface is confirmed, Titan is one of the most exciting worlds of the Solar system. The canyon networks filled with a liquid hydrocarbon cross the satellite along and across, flowing into the seas filled with gas. Recently, in the atmosphere of Titan , a substance was found that could be the basis of life.