Drone helicopter to fly on Saturn's moon, Titan — Dragonfly

This poster shows a set of images acquired by the European Space Agency's Huygens probe descent imager  spectral radiometer in the four cardinal directions, at five different altitudes above Titan's surface. Image and

It also carries a mass spectrometer, allowing it to analyze in detail the materials it encounters across Titan's surface and determine their chemical makeup.

The officials explained that if Titan indeed has life, Dragonfly could conceivably find evidence of it.

The mission, named Dragonfly, will explore the mysterious world using pioneering drone technology.

In addition to studying this "pre-biotic chemistry", Dragonfly carries instruments that can investigate the moon's atmosphere and the ocean that is thought to lie beneath its surface.

Dragonfly is set to be one of NASA's most ambitious missions to date.

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Dragonfly will aim for a 2.7-year initial mission, with dozens of landing sites on the menu. From the Voyager fly-by to the 13 years' worth of data collected by Cassini, the agency has accumulated a wealth of information on the Saturn moon. It will first land at the equatorial Shangri-La dune fields, which are terrestrially similar to the linear dunes in Namibia in southern Africa and offer a diverse sampling location. The craft will conduct its exploration in short flight increasing the length to 8 km.

After the launch in 2026, it will take Dragonfly around eight years to achieve Titan.

Titan is unlike any other place in the solar system, and Dragonfly is like no other mission, said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASAs associate administrator for Science at the agencys Headquarters in Washington.

Dragonfly, the project will essentially be a microwave-sized large helicopter drone that will fly across multiple locations on Titan and will touch down on dunes and the floor of an impact crater above the surface. But it's not from water - it's actually methane that functions like water does on Earth due to Titan's frigid temperatures. Other organics are formed in the atmosphere and fall like light snow.

Titan's organic chemistry is composed of complex molecules that may well be, at minimum, precursors for alien biology. Its surface pressure is also 50 percent higher than Earths. The mission is being led by Elizabeth Turtle of Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. The program is managed by the Planetary Missions Program Office at NASAs Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for the agencys Planetary Science Division in Washington. The first three are New Horizons, which visited Pluto in 2015, a Kuiper Belt object nicknamed Ultima Thule on New Year's Day this year, and is continuing its journey into the far reaches of the solar system; Juno, which is orbiting Jupiter; and OSIRIS-REx, which is orbiting the asteroid Bennu getting ready to grab a sample and return it to Earth. On Thursday, June 2u7, 2019, NASA announced it would send the drone to the jovian planet's largest moon.

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