NASA’S Dragonfly to Explore Saturn’S Moon for Origins and Signs of Life (Download PDF)

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National Aeronautics for Space Administration announced to launch Dragonfly drone helicopter to Saturn’s largest moon Titan in search of building blocks of life in 2020 to explore the unique and richly organic World Titan. Mission aims to reveal clues to how life may have arisen on our planet. By visiting a world filled with a wide variety of organic compounds, which are the building blocks of life Dragonfly would teach us about the origin of life itself.

This image show in NASA’s Dragonfly

This Image Show in NASA’S Dragonfly

This image show in NASA’s Dragonfly

Mission Overview & Objectives

  • A rotorcraft called ‘Dragonfly’ will fly to dozens of promising locations on Titan looking for prebiotic chemical processes common on both Titan and Earth taking advantage of Titan’s dense atmosphere.

  • It is expected to arrive at the Saturn’s moon in 2034.

  • The mission 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.

  • Its instruments will study how far prebiotic chemistry may have progressed.

  • They will investigate the moon’s atmospheric and surface properties and its subsurface ocean and liquid reservoirs. Additionally, instruments will search for chemical evidence of past or extant life, according to the statement.

  • This rotorcraft flying miles and miles across the organic sand dunes of Saturn’s largest moon, exploring the processes that shape this extraordinary environment.

Titan-Saturn’S Largest Moon

  • Titan being the second largest natural satellite in the Solar System is also the largest moon of the Saturn.

  • It is also considered to be the only moon with dense atmosphere.

  • It is 50 % larger than Earth’s moon and 80 % more massive.

  • It is mainly composed of ice and rocky materials.

  • The largely nitrogen and minor components lead to the formation of methane and ethane clouds and nitrogen-rich organic smog in the atmosphere of Titan.

  • Wind, rain creates surface features similar to that of Earth along with sand dunes, rivers. Lakes and deltas.

  • Titan’s methane cycle and Earth’s water cycle are analogous to each other at the much lower temperature of about 94 Kelvin.

  • Titan is not visible through the naked eye. It can be observed through small telescopes and strong binoculars.

  • The Cassini-Huygens spacecraft reached Saturn on July 1,2004. Using the radar the process of mapping Titan’s surface was carried on.

  • The Huygens probe discovered that Titan’s surface is mostly formed by fluids at some point in the past.

Latest Updates

  • The Dragonfly will be able to make multiple flights around the moon, aided by Titan’s dense, calm atmosphere and low gravity.

  • It will explore and sample various locations on Titan, tens to hundreds of miles apart, in order to characterize the habitability of the moon’s environment, investigate the progression of prebiotic chemistry, and even search for chemical hints of water-based or hydrocarbon-based life.

  • The spacecraft is scheduled to launch in 2026, reaching Titan in 2034. Among the instruments on board will be a mass spectrometer with laser-desorption and gas-chromatography capability, which will perform chemical analysis of samples collected from the surface

- Published/Last Modified on: August 8, 2019

Science/Technology

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