Science

NASA Dragonfly on the hunt for origin and life on Titan

Finding the secrets of an early historic earth

NASA has announced that the distinctive, richly organic Titan world is our next target in the solar system. The Dragonfly mission will fly various sorties to sample and examine locations around the icy moon of Saturn in advance of our quest for the construction blocks of life.

In 2026, Dragonfly will start and arrive in 2034. The rotorcraft will fly to dozens of promising places on Titan seeking prevalent Titan and Earth prebiotic chemical processes. Dragonfly marks the first time NASA is flying on another planet with a multi-rotor car for science; it has eight rotors and flies like a big drone. It will take advantage of the thick environment of Titan–four times denser than that of Earth–to become the first car ever to fly its entire scientific payload to new locations for repetitive and targeted access to surface components.

“With the Dragonfly mission, NASA will once again do what no one else can do, visiting this mysterious ocean world could revolutionize what we know about life in the universe. This cutting-edge mission would have been unthinkable even just a few years ago, but we’re now ready for Dragonfly’s amazing flight.”
– NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine

Titan is an analogous to the early Earth, and can give hints as to how life on our planet might have arisen. Dragonfly will investigate various environments from organic dunes to the ground of an impact crater during its 2,7-year baseline mission, where liquid water and complicated organic materials once existed together for potentially tens of thousands of years. Its tools will study the progress of prebiotic chemistry. They will also explore the atmospheric and surface characteristics of the moon and its ocean and liquid reservoirs below the surface. In addition, tools will search for past or existing life chemical proof.

Image: NASA

Categories
Science