back to article Look out, Titan. Plutonium robots from Earth are on their way

NASA plans to terrorise the skies with a plutonium-powered drone. Thankfully not those above Gatwick, but the dense haze surrounding the Saturn moon Titan. Space boffins at NASA have been pondering where to send the robots next as part of its New Frontiers programme, with ambitious sample return missions also on the cards. The …

  1. jmch Silver badge
    Boffin

    Construction material?

    It's got to be Titanium, right?

    NASA, make it happen!

    1. Rupert Fiennes Silver badge

      Re: Construction material?

      Not likely: titanium is rather reactive, and the sea of liquid methane with contaminants that Titan has might prove a bit much for it. Maybe stainless steel?

      1. Danny Boyd

        Re: Construction material?

        Titanium is much more rust-resistant than stainless steel, just ask any diver.

  2. STOP_FORTH
    Alien

    You can't fool us, Earth scum

    Think you're being clever, using Earth years do you? We'll be ready.

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: You can't fool us, Earth scum

      Oi Mysterons stop invading planets!

      1. STOP_FORTH
        Alien

        Re: You can't fool us, Earth scum

        Your microphone is old hat and your car goes backwards you silly Earth person.

        1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: You can't fool us, Earth scum

          Thats it, I am confiscating your Green Torch for 2 weeks.

          1. STOP_FORTH
            Alien

            Re: You can't fool us, Earth scum

            Captain Black is behind you with a pair of scissors, string-boy!

            1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

              Re: You can't fool us, Earth scum

              Oh one of those scenes.

              *Cut to a close up of someones actual hand with a pair of Scissors*

              1. STOP_FORTH

                Re: You can't fool us, Earth scum

                :-)

                Now walk through a doorway!

  3. PerlyKing Bronze badge
    Thumb Up

    Flight of the Dragonfly

    Pity it's not a nuclear-powered glider, but we can't have everything ;-)

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: Flight of the Dragonfly

      'Nuclear-powered Octo-copter' is still pretty damn cool.

      1. aks Bronze badge

        Re: Flight of the Dragonfly

        I want one! Where can I buy it?

    2. Geoff May (no relation)

      Re: Flight of the Dragonfly

      Why can't I up-vote more than once?

    3. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Flight of the Dragonfly

      But, Shirley, a powered glider is an aeroplane*.

      *Replace aero for whatever the methane equivalent is. Farto?

      1. Wilseus

        Re: Flight of the Dragonfly

        "Replace aero for whatever the methane equivalent is. Farto?"

        Titan's lakes are composed largely of methane, but its actual atmosphere is mostly nitrogen, much like ours. Either way, it's still "air" I guess.

    4. boltar Silver badge

      Re: Flight of the Dragonfly

      I am wondering why is such a dense atmosphere with low gravity it needs 8 rotors. Redundancy perhaps?

  4. Antonius_Prime

    Dave?

    ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS EXCEPT EUROPA.

    ATTEMPT NO LANDING THERE.

    Just sayin'...

    (I know, Europa is a moon of Jupiter, but still...)

    1. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Dave?

      ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS EXCEPT EUROPA.

      ATTEMPT NO LANDING THERE.

      Look, the UK has spent three years trying to figure out just what Brexit means and then implement it. We can't even think about going anywhere even loosely related to Europe until then. If we announced a mission to Europa, 51.9% of the UK would not stop ranting about it

      1. boltar Silver badge

        Re: Dave?

        " 51.9% of the UK would not stop ranting about it"

        ITYM 48.1% would spend every waking minute until the launch wailing and shrieking about how the rocket shouldn't leave because their tea leaves and ouija boards are telling them the mission will end in disaster.

        1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

          Re: their tea leaves and ouija boards are telling them the mission will end in disaster.

          You are aware that it is being organised by Chris Grayling?

  5. DJO Silver badge

    Chrono-synclastic infundibulum

    Oh good a drone, something for Kazak to chase, the harmoniums are just too slow.

    Best Regards to all on Earth

    Winston Niles Rumfoord

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Chrono-synclastic infundibulum

      Not many references to Kurt Vonnegut here, have a

  6. 0laf Silver badge

    Lots of moving parts on an octo drone. I thought they were going for a balloon.

    Hey ho I'm not a NASA engineer so I have to assume it's all been though out.

    I hope they remember to register for their drone pilot licence.

  7. Potemkine! Silver badge
    Headmaster

    to cover an area of almost two hundred kilometres

    to cover a distance of almost two hundred kilometres or to cover an area of almost two hundred square-kilometres?

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge
      Trollface

      Probably ≈200km * 0.0037 assuming a straightish line. As an engineering approximation, lets call it 0.74km², or 0.036 microWales

  8. RobThBay

    Draganfly....

    I used to own one of these... way back in 2010.

    http://www.draganfly.com

  9. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Windows

    But fifteen years....

    Feeling like the chap referenced in Bowie's "Life on Mars". See pic.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I hope there's no one home

    After all, how would you feel if someone started dropping lumps of plutonium on your land?

    Reminds me - isn't there a shortage of the plutonium needed for RTGs?

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. Danny Boyd
    Alien

    From a conversation of Somewhat Drunk Janitor and a Little Green Man:

    SDJ: "Is there life on Mars?"

    LGM: "Frankly, none either."

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dragonfly?

    Instantly reminds me of: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BiUWAOL_uH8

    Sybil: If I find out the money on that horse was yours, you know what I'll do, Basil.

    Basil: You' ll have to sew 'em back on first!

  14. Snerdguy

    Titans need not worry.

    While fifteen years may not seem like a long time in science, in politics it's enough time for another administration to redirect the funding. Just as the whole 'return to the Moon' fiasco is the Republican party's means of funneling government contracts and money to their big campaign contributors, the aerospace companies, that could all change if they fall out of control. If the Democrats take over, that money may end up going toward building roads or other infrastructure. So, it's best to say 'maybe' NASA will send a drone to Titan.

    Have they accomplished anything toward building this drone besides an idea on a piece of scrap paper? Where are they even getting a plutonium core as it's a product of atomic bomb manufacturing which hasn't been done in decades? I thought the stuff was pretty scarce,

  15. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    NASA just announced that we are going to Titan!!

    That's what it sounded like, but when written, it said...

    NASA just announced that we are going to tighten...

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