QUOTE (belleraphon1 @ Mar 8 2007, 07:01 PM)
Sure wish we could scoop up some of this Titan goop. But VERY GINGERLY.
Maybe a sample return mission from Titan is reasonably doable after all.
Getting a package to Titan's surface has been done (Huygens landed and survived)
Getting a package off Titan's surface may be a bit trickier, but Titan has the bonus of liquid fuel in the form of Methan/ethane. We would only need to supply the oxidizer (oxygen).
I picture an atmospheric balloon with multiple sample containers. It sets down, scoops stuff into a container. Proceeds to the next location, scoops more in, etc.. It finally drifts over to a methane/ethane lake, fills up the propellant tanks for the escape package. Floats up to maximum altitude and the escape package (which has the oxygen tank) ignites, separates and goes back to Earth on a long slow trajectory.
Even after the escape package separates, the balloon could still maintain a smaller instrument package for surface imaging, MS analysis, and other meteorological analysis for a long duration stay in the Titan atmosphere.
Even a small amount of non-volatile material from the Titanian surface delivered to Earth would speak infitine volumes about Titan surface chemistry and the potential for life.