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Design of a long endurance Titan VTOL vehicle

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8 Author(s)
Prakash, R. ; Guggenheim Sch. of Aerosp. Eng., Georgia Inst. of Technol., Atlanta, GA ; Braun, R.D. ; Colby, L.S. ; Francis, S.R.
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Saturn's moon Titan promises insight into numerous key scientific questions, many of which can be investigated only by in situ exploration of its surface and atmosphere. This paper presents research on a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicle designed to conduct a scientific investigation of Titan's atmosphere, clouds, haze, surface, and any possible oceans. Multiple options for vertical takeoff and horizontal mobility were considered. A helicopter was baselined because of its many advantages over other types of vehicles, particularly in that it has access to hazardous terrain and the ability to perform low speed aerial surveys. Using a nuclear power source and the atmosphere of Titan, a turbo expander cycle produces the 1.9 kW required by the vehicle for flight and mission operations, allowing it to sustain a long range, long duration mission that could travel over a thousand kilometers. The turbo expander power source can increase the lifespan and quality of science for planetary aerial flight to an extent that the limiting factor for the mission life is not available power but the life of the mechanical parts. This design is the first to investigate the implications of this potentially revolutionary technology on a Titan aerial vehicle

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Aerospace Conference, 2006 IEEE

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