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AVIATR - Titan Airplane Mission Concept, Proposed unmanned aerial exploration of Titan
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post Nov 24 2011, 01:59 AM
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Ah! Thanks, Jason; feelin' warmer & fuzzier! smile.gif


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Mongo
post Nov 26 2011, 02:35 AM
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I wonder if, instead of a virtually financially impossible Titan Flagship Mission, it would be possible to have a series of lower-cost Discovery-class missions to Titan, spread over a span of years? I assume that this would be possible only if launch costs drop by an order of magnitude or more, which could happen if Elon Musk is correct about having his Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles be totally or mostly reusable.

If we have launch costs be a fairly small fraction of the total program costs, then would it be feasible to have a payload launched to Titan every launch opportunity, with the first being for example an orbiter / relay station with Radar and IR imagers / spectrometers, the second being a TiME lake floater (transmitting via the orbiter for much higher data rates), the third being an AVIATR aircraft (again, transmitting to Earth via the orbiter), etc.? Similar, in other words, to the recent Mars exploration program.

How would the costs compare to a Titan Flagship mission, and how would the science results compare? Is this a foolish notion, or does it have real possibilities?
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vjkane
post Nov 26 2011, 05:00 PM
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Your idea of a number of lower cost missions has been proposed. Titan as a target for repeated missions has pluses (pretty benign environment) and minuses (long cruise times at ~$10M/year). My blog entry next week (futureplanets.blogspot.com) will look at the options for this approach (this week will be on the Mars 2016 and 2018 missions).


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Paolo
post Nov 26 2011, 05:07 PM
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QUOTE (Mongo @ Nov 26 2011, 03:35 AM) *
I assume that this would be possible only if launch costs drop by an order of magnitude or more


I believe launch costs amount to about 1/10 of the total for a Discovery-class mission (or rather "amounted" before the Delta 2 was retired)


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post Nov 26 2011, 05:09 PM
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Guys, in the name of keeping this thread on topic, suggest placing any posts about other possible future missions & architectures here.


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Jason W Barnes
post Dec 23 2011, 11:25 PM
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The AVIATR team has published a paper about the mission concept in Experimental Astronomy that's just come out online. You can download it here if you're interested.

- Jason
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stevesliva
post Dec 24 2011, 02:43 AM
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Interesting that the Mongolfiere requires an MMRTG while the plane requires an ASRG. And they both need Pu-238.

How do you predict goop accumulation on the optical windows? And ice/goop accumulation on the lifting surfaces?
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vjkane
post Dec 24 2011, 06:02 AM
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Jason - Has your team every looked into including a small relay orbiter with the mission? At an estimated cost of ~$700M, you would seem to have ~$300M for a satellite for a New Frontiers mission. Given that the JET orbiter was a Discovery proposal ($425M) and assuming some common costs, $300M doesn't seem too far off. I presume a relay orbiter would increase data return by a couple of orders of magnitude.

Of course, we need to get Titan added to the list of New Frontiers targets...


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vjkane
post Dec 24 2011, 09:46 PM
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QUOTE (Mongo @ Nov 25 2011, 06:35 PM) *
I wonder if, instead of a virtually financially impossible Titan Flagship Mission, it would be possible to have a series of lower-cost Discovery-class missions to Titan, spread over a span of years?

I provided my thoughts on this question here.


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Greg Hullender
post Dec 25 2011, 07:13 PM
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We're looking far enough in the future that laser communications may be viable: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/aug/H...Selections.html

If that really can deliver a 100x increase in bandwidth, I'd think that would be the way to go. Obviously a laser might have some problems getting through Titan's clouds, but a relay satellite seems like a much better deal if it can deliver such a huge improvement in the quantity of data transmitted.

Put differently, are we doing these things in the wrong order? Shouldn't we shoot for a long-lived Titan orbiter first and then plan for all the following missions to use it as a relay?

--Greg
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post Dec 25 2011, 10:26 PM
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(sigh)...Guys, once again, please keep this thread focused on AVIATR itself. Post here for other future mission concepts, proposals, and relevant, realistic enabling technologies.


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Juramike
post Jan 3 2012, 02:06 AM
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AVIATR mission concept written up in Universe Today: http://www.universetoday.com/92286/aviatr-...sion-for-titan/


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Juramike
post Jan 11 2012, 04:48 PM
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space.com article: http://www.space.com/14191-titan-drone-air...plore-moon.html


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nprev
post Jan 11 2012, 06:22 PM
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Great write-up & illustrations. Congrats, Jason & Mike! smile.gif


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