News ID: 209694
Published: 0629 GMT February 09, 2018

Scientists build an 'alien' ocean on Earth

Scientists build an 'alien' ocean on Earth
Scientists build an 'alien' ocean on Earth to test NASA submarines. (UK TIME NEWS)

An ‘alien’ ocean has been built on Earth by researchers. The simulation of another world could help us explore more of our solar system and understand the strange worlds that lurk within it.

Scientists one day hope to be able to plunge a submarine under the surface of Titan, Saturn's biggest moon. NASA hopes to be able to do so within the next 20 years, wrote.

But doing that is going to be tough, given that the surface is very cold, at around -300ºF, and the ocean is made of methane and ethane.

It's those characteristics that make it so interesting to researchers — unlike anywhere else in our solar system, it has oceans, rivers, clouds and rain like our own, but emerging from a cycle based on methane not water — but it's also what makes it such a hard place to explore.

It will be important to make sure that anything we build can withstand the difficult and dangerous environment on the planet.

It will not only have to survive moving around Titan's seas but even taking video from them, which can be used by scientists back at home on Earth to understand more about the strange's worlds atmosphere.

To do that, a researcher at Washington State University built a small version of the strange world's seas, allowing for the testing of a heated submarine of the kind NASA might send along.

They built a small chamber that housed the liquid mixture that is found on the planet and simulated its low temperatures, and they also built a small model that was able to simulate the same heat the submarine will give off.

Ian Richardson, a former graduate student in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering who worked on the effort, said, "My research just took a right turn, and I went with it. It's a crazy experiment, and I never thought I would have had this opportunity. It's been a very fun and challenging experimental design problem."


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