The Titan Mare Explorer: A nautical mission to an alien sea.
If [NASA] green-lights the mission, the capsule will lift off in 2016. By 2023, TiME will be about 800 million miles away in Titan’s north-polar region, home to its biggest lakes and seas. The capsule will take photographs, collect meteorological data, measure depth, and analyze samples. TiME will have no means of propulsion once it is on Titan, so it will float, carried by breezes across the sea’s surface. Then, by the mid-2020s, it will enter a decade-long winter of darkness as the moon’s orbit takes it to the dark side of Saturn, away from the sun and communication. It won’t have a line of sight to Earth to beam back more data until 2035.
From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.
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