Discovered in 2007, Kraken Mare — yes, named after the Kraken — is a lake that’s over 150,000 square miles of liquid methane. That’s because Kraken Mare is on Titan, Saturn’s largest moon. The Cassini probe found it and estimates from its radar imagery that it’s about 900 feet deep. (By comparison, Lake Superior is 1,335 feet deep.) NASA saw all that information and thought: “Let’s put a submarine there.”
This craft will autonomously carry out detailed scientific investigations under the surface of Kraken Mare, providing unprecedented knowledge of an extraterrestrial sea and expanding NASA’s existing capabilities in planetary exploration to include in situ nautical operations. (Via)
The best way to explore a sea is with a submersible, and so NASA hopes to build a craft that can be fired in to space, land in Titan’s dense atmosphere, then make its way into Kraken Mare. There the autonomous probe will measure the chemical composition of the lake; its currents; tides; and the lake floor. NASA wants to have a workable space sub traveling through the lakes of Titan by 2040.
The concept art of it kind of looks like a pontoon that my uncle once owned:
I dig how at the end it looks like you’re traveling over an alien version of the Dead Marshes. You never know, there could be a lot of dead elves on Saturn’s moons. Alien elves. Hmm. I think I have my next NaNoWriMo idea.