Envision a spacecraft capable of flying through Saturn’s moon Titan’s hazy atmosphere and landing safely on the moon’s combustible oceans of liquid methane and other hydrocarbons.
To create “a flying, fully instrumented boat that would effortlessly transition between soaring over Titan’s atmosphere and navigating its lakes, much like a seaplane on Earth,” NASA gave a former Boeing mechanic a modest grant earlier this month.
Phase one project funds totaling $175,000 were recently released by the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) programme. These grants are intended to fund preliminary investigations into technologies that may one day be used to aid NASA missions.
A grant was given to Planet Enterprises, owned by Quinn Morley of Gig Harbor, Washington, for their TitanAir project.
Washington State University student Morley, who is majoring in mechanical engineering, boasted on LinkedIn that he “took an idea inspired by a space coffee cup and a messy spill in the refrigerator, convinced a team of amazing people to work with me, and mixed it all into a winning NIAC concept over summer break.”
Morley recalled astronaut Don Pettit’s attempts to design a coffee cup that would work in microgravity and make greater use of capillary action to prevent spills. Morley started pondering how an aeroplane may benefit from a similar manoeuvre.
“I don’t remember what sparked the idea to bring fluids in via the porous skin of the wings. Though, I do recall mulling over the concept for a time, unsure of what to do with a liquid-filled wing bullnose.”
Envision a ship that could fly through Saturn’s moon Titan’s hazy atmosphere and land safely on the moon’s combustible seas of liquid methane and other hydrocarbons. Titan is one of the most peculiar planets in the Solar System.
This month, NASA gave a former Boeing mechanic a tiny grant to create “a flying, fully instrumented boat that would effortlessly transition between soaring above Titan’s atmosphere and navigating its lakes, much like a seaplane on Earth,” as stated in a NASA announcement.
The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) programme has announced its most recent batch of phase one project funding, totaling $175,000. These funds will be used to conduct preliminary research on technologies that may one day be used to aid in NASA’s future missions.
Funding for the TitanAir project led by Quinn Morley of Gig Harbor, Washington’s Planet Enterprises was one of 14 awards made.
Morley, who is earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Washington State University, said how he came up with the idea for NIAC over the summer vacation, citing inspiration from a space coffee cup and a nasty accident in the refrigerator.
The accident reminded Morley of astronaut Don Pettit’s experiments with a capillary-action coffee cup designed for use in microgravity. Morley started pondering how a similar operation might be implemented on a plane.
“I can’t recall what sparked the idea to pump fluids through the porous skin of a bird’s wings. Having a liquid-filled wing bullnose was a thought that perplexed me for a time.”
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