Design of a Long Endurance Titan VTOL Vehicle

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Prakash, Ravi
Braun, Robert D.
Colby, Luke S.
Francis, Scott R.
Gündüz, Mustafa E.
Flaherty, Kevin W.
Lafleur, Jarret M.
Wright, Henry S.
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Saturn's moon Titan promises insight into many key scientific questions, many of which can be investigated only by in situ exploration of the surface and atmosphere of the moon. This research presents a vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicle designed to conduct a scientific investigation of Titan's atmosphere, clouds, haze, surface, and any possible oceans. In this investigation, multiple options for vertical takeoff and horizontal mobility were considered. A helicopter was baselined because of its many advantages over other types of vehicles, namely 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 operations, allowing it to sustain a long range, long duration mission that could traverse the majority of Titan. Such a power source could 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. Therefore, the mission could potentially last for years. This design is the first to investigate the implications of this potentially revolutionary technology on a Titan aerial vehicle.
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