This Thursday, NASA announced a new mission to Saturn's largest moon, Titan. Christened 'Dragonfly', the mission will launch in 2026 and land Titan-side in 2034. The probe dropped through the notoriously thick atmosphere of Titan but only managed to survive for 90 minutes across its surface. Because it's an aerial drone and not a rover, Dragonfly will be able to venture to these locations rather quickly, providing a wealth of information and many observations over a shorter period of time.
Dragonfly was selected as the next mission in Nasa's New Frontiers programme of medium-class planetary science missions. "This cutting-edge mission would have been unthinkable even just a few years ago, but we're now ready for Dragonfly's incredible flight". It is over 842,000,000 miles from the Earth and is the only other place in the solar system that is known to have liquid lakes, rivers, and seas on its surface.More news: Whole Papayas Linked to Nationwide Salmonella Outbreak
Dragonfly will feature several cameras, as well as an assortment of scientific equipment, including spectrometers to identify large organic molecules, a host of meteorology sensors and a seismometer to detect quakes that could reveal the thickness of the moon's ice crust. NASA's associate administrator for science, Thomas Zurbuchen said, "The science is compelling and the mission is bold".
A growing number of solar system worlds show evidence of having subsurface oceans that could harbor microbial life. "During its 2.7-year baseline mission, Dragonfly will 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". First on some of the dunes and in a crater afterward. NASA's drone is called Dragonfly, and it will fly across Saturn's moon to examine sites and samples that could carry information about alien life.
The instruments aboard the drone will study the habitability of Titan and look for chemical signatures of past or present life, Bridenstine said. Actually, its atmosphere is four times denser than Earth and it rains liquid methane and other organic compounds onto the moon's surface. Titan is about 886 miles from the Sun having a surface temperature of -290 degrees Fahrenheit. "We are absolutely thrilled, and everyone is just raring to go and take the next steps in exploring Titan".More news: Google Maps will presently caution people about crowded trains and late buses
Project Dragonfly was chosen from about a dozen other initiatives, even beating out a mission to collect comet samples.
Carrying multiple cameras for capturing pictures on its journey, Dragonfly rotorcraft-lander will eventually fly more than 108 miles (175 km) which is almost double the distance covered to date by all Mars rovers combined.More news: Google now lets you set location history to auto-delete