Space.com has an article on the possible ESA Titan balloon contribution to a Flagship Titan Saturn System mission http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/081106-am-titan-balloon.html.
The article states that the balloon gondola will have the ability to float and lakes while the mission will have the ability to grab and then analyze surface samples. This would be great if it's true, but I have my doubts. While it is easy to have a balloon descend to the surface, it is much harder to prevent damage to the gondola and balloon if winds drag them across the surface. Perhaps this is some kind of snake that would be tolerant of dragging across the surface that would be lowered to the surface to grab samples.
These low ground maneuvers would be that much harder to manage with Titan a long distance away (I forget how long it takes a radio wave to travel the distance) and the orbiter only occasionally in direct contact with the balloon (even when the orbiter has reached Titan orbit).
Anyone know anything more about this?
On the bummer side, the TSSM mission would arrive in the Saturn system in 2030. That would make me only 74 on arrive and about 76 when it finally reaches Titan orbit. Whichever flagship destination is chosen (Titan or Europa), this will be my last outer planet flagship mission. I suddenly feel a lot older...