I was very interested to know what the black lake on Titan would look like. Are there any plans or proposals for a future mission to land on and/or in one of the lakes of black liquid on Titan, or even to land nearby and approach it?

Would there be any unique technical challenges to this that have not been encountered and solved for previous lander missions?

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    $\begingroup$ AFAIK, there is no planned mission to Titan. There are certainly ideas about what such a mission would be like, but nobody has yet stated "We're going to Titan." $\endgroup$ – Phiteros Jul 25 '17 at 4:31
  • $\begingroup$ I've adjusted the wording of your question a bit to increase the chances of an interesting and helpful answer. I'm guessing you would be interested in learning about proposed missions as well as planned ones, and perhaps would like to hear about some of the unique technical challenges. Feel free to roll back if this isn't the case. It's a really interesting question by the way! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jul 25 '17 at 6:15
  • $\begingroup$ Just look into wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… $\endgroup$ – Uwe Jul 25 '17 at 9:15

It's a late answer but I was surprised nobody cited this:

Titan Mare Explorer (TiME)

enter image description here

The TiME lander was a part of cooperative NASA-ESA mission TSSM. The mission was not considered as highest priority by Planetary Decadal Survey 2013 so it's not being implemented now. Also it was studied as standalone Discovery class mission.

ASRG generator was planned as compact energy source but its development didn't end well enough.

Goals and instruments:


• Understand Titanʼs methane cycle through study of a Titan sea.

• Investigate Titanʼs history & explore the limits of life


• Meteorology & physical properties (MP3)

• Mass Spec for Lake Chemistry (NMS)

• Descent and Surface Imaging Cameras

  • $\begingroup$ I love this image! Is the ASRG related to the tall tower (keeping heat away from the lake) or is that an antenna? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Sep 23 '18 at 23:52
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh I was the Mission Architect for the 2007-2008 TSSM mission concept study. The "Lake Lander", as we called it, was not powered by an ASRG, but by primary batteries instead. You can see this in the study report given to the Planetary Science Decadal Survey Team (I was a member of the Satellites Panel), at ia800502.us.archive.org/6/items/TitanSaturnSystemMission/… . I can't find the original study report from 2008 but I have some of my original work on that, and you can see evolution in the Lake Lander between 2008 & 2010... $\endgroup$ – Tom Spilker Sep 24 '18 at 18:08
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh The image in the answer is the 2008 version. The "tower" is a mast that puts some of the science instruments farther from the sea surface for better operation: an anemometer (two of them, one halfway up and one at the top, to allow wind shear measurements), a camera, etc. The antenna is an omni so it is a small thing down on the platform. $\endgroup$ – Tom Spilker Sep 24 '18 at 18:13
  • $\begingroup$ @TomSpilker the archived report is really fascinating, what a great window on how missions take shape; I've never heard of a "Science Traceability Matrix" before, but I like how it works to systematize functions and purposes. It's a bit of a fun puzzle without an accompanying document, can you tell me what Montgolfière is? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Sep 25 '18 at 1:07
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh We had a lot of fun with that—the Montgolfier (pronounced mont-Gol-fee-AY) brothers invented a hot-air balloon type that they named Montgolfière (pronounced mont-Gol-fee-AYR). We were going to power the Montgolfière with waste heat from an MMRTG. The Science Traceability Matrix (STM) is a way of keeping the system lean. When someone, say a telecom engineer, tells you the telecom system has to be designed a certain way, you can ask, "Show me in the STM where that requirement comes from." Or if their design isn't up to snuff, the STM will tell how much better it must be. $\endgroup$ – Tom Spilker Sep 25 '18 at 1:59

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