NASA Announces Plan to Explore Saturn Moon Titan With 'Dragonfly' Drone Copter

Friday, 28 June 2019 - 9:19AM
Science News
Solar System
Friday, 28 June 2019 - 9:19AM
NASA Announces Plan to Explore Saturn Moon Titan With 'Dragonfly' Drone Copter
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NASA/JHU-APL
NASA announced last night that their much-discussed Dragonfly project which plans to deliver a quadcopter drone to the surface of Saturn's moon Titan has been green-lit. That's right, we're going to Titan! According to NASA, the Dragonfly will take advantage of Titan's dense atmosphere – which protects the surface (and therefore Dragonfly) from radiation – to "explore diverse environments from organic dunes to the floor of an impact crater where liquid water and complex organic materials key to life once existed together for possibly tens of thousands of years" during a 2.7-year mission that it will undertake upon landing.


This is no quick jaunt to the moon or Mars, however: At 842,000,000 miles from Earth, Titan is roughly ten times farther from the Sun than we are. Although Dragonfly will launch in 2026, it is not expected to land until 2034. Contrast that with the Mars 2020 rover mission which will launch next summer and land in February 2021: the galactic equivalent of a summer road trip. 


NASA is confident that this mission will yield vital knowledge about our solar system and the universe surrounding us. "Visiting this mysterious ocean world could revolutionize what we know about life in the universe, " said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "This cutting-edge mission would have been unthinkable even just a few years ago, but we're now ready for Dragonfly's amazing flight."


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