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Heated-Atmosphere Airship for the Titan Environment: Thermal AnalysisFuture exploration of Saturn's moon Titan can be carried out by airships. Several lighter-than-atmosphere gas airships and passive drifting heated-atmosphere balloon designs have been studied, but a heated-atmosphere airship could combine the best characteristics of both. This work analyses the thermal design of such a heated-atmosphere vehicle, and compares the result with a lighter-than-atmosphere (hydrogen) airship design. A design tool was created to enable iteration through different design parameters of a heated-atmosphere airship (diameter, number of layers, and insulating gas pocket thicknesses) and evaluate the feasibility of the resulting airship. A baseline heated-atmosphere airship was designed to have a diameter of 6 m (outer diameter of 6.2 m), three-layers of material, and an insulating gas pocket thickness of 0.05 m between each layer. The heated-atmosphere airship has a mass of 161.9 kg. A similar mission making use of a hydrogen-filled airship would require a diameter of 4.3 m and a mass of about 200 kg. For a long-duration mission, the heated-atmosphere airship appears better suited. However, for a mission lifetime under 180 days, the less complex hydrogen airship would likely be a better option.
Document ID
Document Type
Technical Memorandum (TM)
Heller, R. S. (Massachusetts Inst. of Tech. Cambridge, MA, United States)
Landis, G. A. (NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Hepp, A. F. (NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Colozza, A. J. (QinetiQ North America Cleveland, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
August 26, 2013
Publication Date
July 1, 2012
Subject Category
Spacecraft Design, Testing and Performance
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Earth and Space 2012 Conference(Pasadena, CA)
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 387498.
Distribution Limits
Public Use Permitted.

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