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AVIATR - Titan Airplane Mission Concept, Proposed unmanned aerial exploration of Titan
Juramike
post Apr 16 2010, 12:20 AM
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The AVIATR mission concept is an unmanned aerial vehicle that would fly over Titan’s surface. It’s nominal one year mission would enable detailed high-resolution images of Titan’s diverse landscapes for better comparison to Earth’s geological processes. Selected regions could be imaged at resolutions near 30 cm/pixel, equivalent to current HiRise imaging of Mars. In addition, atmospheric sampling would allow a profile of Titan’s thick lower atmosphere and how it relates to Earth’s atmospheric processes and weather systems.

Further details of the AVIATR mission concept were presented at the Lunar and Planetary Sciences Conference 2010 and at Titan Through Time 2010.
See: Barnes et al. LPSC 41 (2010) Abstract 2551. “AVIATR: Aerial Vehicle for In-situ and Airborne Titan Reconnaissance.”
Freely available here: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2010/pdf/2551.pdf

And also: http://www.info.uidaho.edu/documents/2010%...18467&doc=1


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Juramike
post Apr 16 2010, 12:23 AM
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This is an artist's impression of the AVIATR airplane flying over a northern Titan lake:

Attached Image


This image was the background for the LPSC and Titan Through Time AVIATR mission poster.

-Mike

Link to a full size graphic here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/31678681@N07/4524067323/


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nprev
post Apr 16 2010, 12:33 AM
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ohmy.gif ...niiiiiiiice!!!! Sweet image, Mike, and that's an exciting concept!


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vjkane
post Apr 16 2010, 06:08 AM
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Also check out http://futureplanets.blogspot.com/2010/02/...e-proposal.html

Fantastic graphic!


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Juramike
post Apr 20 2010, 03:14 AM
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Image showing the proposed AVIATR Titan airplane flying over mountainous bright terrain:

Attached Image


Higher resolution here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/31678681@N07/4536966474/
Full resolution detail of the AVIATR aircraft here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/31678681@N07/...in/photostream/

(I've no clue why the thumbnail looks fuzzy.)


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Juramike
post Apr 30 2010, 01:12 PM
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Recent video showing NASA's Global Hawk UAV research platform:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2qyiwt1_68


Also a TED talk by Joel Levine describing the Mars ARES UAV proposed mission:
http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/joel_levine.html



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Juramike
post May 20 2010, 05:35 PM
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Smithsonian Air and Space article on Titan AVIATR mission:
http://www.airspacemag.com/space-explorati...itan-Air-.html#


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Juramike
post Jun 13 2010, 03:32 AM
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Video of Jason Barnes presenting the AVIATR mission concept during the Huygens legacy conference Jan 15, 2010:

http://vimeo.com/11432536




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Juramike
post Jun 17 2010, 01:44 PM
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Future Planetary Exploration blog entry on AVIATR mission details: http://futureplanets.blogspot.com/2010/06/aviatr-titan-plane-details.html


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algorimancer
post Jun 23 2010, 01:30 PM
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I'm really bothered by the very low (2 Gb) projected data return. This just doesn't sound like a lot of return for a billion dollar investment. Even with compression, 2 Gb doesn't add up to a lot of images (try going on vacation with only a 2 Gb flash card for your digicam), and this mission has the potential to explore much of Titan. Also, the 30 cm/pixel maximum resolution of the surface is on par with what I would expect from an orbiter, not an aircraft. I'd be reasonably happy with 3 mm per pixel (presumably associated with occasional low passes over targets of interest), and I'd like to see data return increased by at least a factor of 10, preferably 100. Possibly the greater data return might be achieved by storing much of the data until near end of mission, then achieving an intact landing and then leisurely transmitting the remainder over a period of months or years; I could even envision adding a very lightweight parabolic antenna to be deployed post-landing to accelerate data return.
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djellison
post Jun 23 2010, 04:16 PM
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You're not going to get 30cm resolution from orbit around Titan. Furthermore, you're not going to get 3mm resolution from an aircraft. Infact, I've never ever heard of an aircraft getting 3mm/pixel on EARTH, let alone on Titan. Google Earth imagery is mainly aerial photography, and is typically at about 25cm/pixel - maybe 12.5cm in some places. That's still a factor of 40 (1600x fewer pixels) lower than the 3mm you're suggesting. If you COULD - you wouldn't need a 10 or 100 fold increase in data return - you would need 10,000 fold increase.

Covering just 0.1% of Titan's surface at 3mm/pixel, at 8 bits per pixel, with 10:1 compression?

83,000 sqkm. At 72 Gigabits per sqkm. 5,976 TERRABITS of data.

At 30cm/pixel 0.0072 Gigabits per sqKm. 598 Gigabits.

MRO with it's huge high gain antenna, in our back-garden at Mars (compared to a flight to Titan) has sent back just 42 Gigabits of data to date.

I'm afraid your expectations are unrealistic, and your engineering suggestions are just in the wrong place in terms of complexity, feasibility etc given the budget, mass, volume etc.

If we're going to go back to Titan, I don't think AVIATR is the way to do it. The way to do it is with TSSM, so you can have the montgolfière + an orbiter for relay. You're still not going to get anywhere near your requirements. But you've going to get a lot more data, that's for sure.
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stevesliva
post Jun 23 2010, 04:52 PM
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Note that the figure is two gigabytes, and calling it 2 Gb rather than the correct 2 GB reduces the figure by a factor of eight to some eyes.

And 2 GB can be thousands of compressed photos. And they will be choosing the best from thumbnails, they say, which does sort of admit the data return would ideally be higher.
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Drkskywxlt
post Jun 23 2010, 05:08 PM
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QUOTE (djellison @ Jun 23 2010, 11:16 AM) *
MRO with it's huge high gain antenna, in our back-garden at Mars (compared to a flight to Titan) has sent back just 42 Gigabits of data to date.

Doug...You're way low with the MRO data return. I'm analyzing MCS data, and there's about 20GB of MCS data publically available alone.

This article says that by March, 100 TERABITS of data had been returned by MRO.
http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/mro-d...one-100315.html
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djellison
post Jun 23 2010, 06:00 PM
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I was going from http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mro/ (bottom left corner ) - but you're right, that widget's clearly WAY out of date. Perhaps they mean 142Tb

Still - the point I was making (even the very highest downlink in planetary exploration is a LOT less than the requirements algorimancer was trying to place on a Titan aircraft.) holds true.

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Drkskywxlt
post Jun 23 2010, 06:25 PM
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QUOTE (djellison @ Jun 23 2010, 01:00 PM) *
I was going from http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mro/ (bottom left corner ) - but you're right, that widget's clearly WAY out of date. Perhaps they mean 142Tb

Still - the point I was making (even the very highest downlink in planetary exploration is a LOT less than the requirements algorimancer was trying to place on a Titan aircraft.) holds true.


Perhaps you need to hit refresh wink.gif. When I load that page, it says 115.7 TB.

Your point was correct, I agree.
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