A mission like no other, for a place that’s unlike anything in our solar system.
Dragonfly will hover over Saturn’s icy moon Titan for 2.7 years collecting and gathering all kinds of data.
I think its an excellent move after the honorable Huygens, which landed on Titan and sent data for 90 minutes after its touchdown. And now Dragonfly is ready to take over its mantle.
Before going into details, the first question, why Titan?
Titan is the only astronomical object in our solar system that has an ocean, is Earth like and could possibly hold life and hold answers to how life began on our planet and its a moon. Titan has a surface with few impact craters, mountain chains, dunes similar to Earth. It has an atmosphere as thick as Earth. It also has rivers, lakes but its filled with hydrocarbons such as methane and ethane. It even rains there, of course full of methane.
This mysterious object deserves a special attention, hence the Dragonfly! NASA knows how to do it.
Dragonfly is scheduled to launch in 2026 and will land on the surface in 2034. Its a “drone-type” lander mission – part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program. Once landed, its set to fly across dozens of locations looking for the answers that would solve our planet’s history and Titan itself. Marking the first time in history, this multi-rotor vehicle will contain eight rotors and will fly like a large drone.
Here is a video of illustration the Dragonfly mission landing on Titan:
Dragonfly is taking the 13 years of data that Cassini collected and its loaded with knowledge to choose the right weather, location to land and scour the moon. It is planned to land at the equatorial “Shangri-La” dune fields. It will fly 108 miles, double the distance traveled by all the Mars rovers combined, says NASA.
There is not just Dragonfly that’s part of the program; there is New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, Juno to Jupiter and OSIRIS-REx to the asteroid Bennu.
Dragonfly mission is lead by Principal Investigator Elizabeth Turtle, who is based at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. Follow all about Dragonfly here: http://dragonfly.jhuapl.edu/index.php