Wednesday, 21 August, 2019

NASA plans to send a drone to Saturn’s largest moon

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Sandy Nunez | 28 June, 2019, 09:21

Titan, the second largest moon in the solar system, is an icy world whose surface is completely obscured by a nitrogen-based golden atmosphere, four times denser than Earth's. It will eventually fly more than 175 km and become the first vehicle ever to fly its entire science payload to new places for repeatable and targeted access to surface materials.

Once on Titan, the mission is expected to last for about 2.5 years, during which time the probe will perform around 25 hops and fly a total distance of around 180 kilometers (110 miles), according to NASA.

USA space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) has announced that its next destination in the solar system is the unique, richly organic world Titan - Saturn's largest moon.

On Thursday, NASA announced the target of its next expedition probe into the corners of our Solar System: Titan, Saturn's largest moon and one of the most intriguing places in the hunt for extraterrestrial life.

"We are absolutely thrilled, and everyone is just raring to go and take the next steps in exploring Titan", said project leader Elizabeth Turtle of Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. Or else, it's also possible that liquid methane can serve the same role as water in the life-forming process.

The drone will first land in Titan's sand dunes near the equatorial region.

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"This cutting-edge mission would have been unthinkable even just a few years ago, but we're now ready for Dragonfly's fantastic flight", Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine said. "This cutting-edge mission would have been unthinkable even just a few years ago, but we're now ready for Dragonfly's wonderful flight".

"Dragonfly will visit a world filled with a wide variety of organic compounds, which are the building blocks of life and could teach us about the origin of life itself, "said NASA's Thomas Zurbuchen". With the Dragonfly mission, NASA can accelerate its search for prebiotic chemical processes that are present on Titan and our planet and advance its space exploration initiatives. Unlike Earth, Titan has clouds and rain of methane.

Dragonfly beat out almost a dozen proposed projects, including a mission to collect samples from a nearby comet. New Frontiers aims to explore parts of the solar system that are top priorities to the greater planetary community. One big difference has to do with the chilly weather: Average surface temperature is in the range of 290 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, or -180 degrees Celsius.

The newly announced Dragonfly mission will be developed and led by Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory in the U.S. state of Maryland.

NASA is going to Titan.

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